Tuesday, October 29, 2013

some people....

there are some people who tend to buy their souvenirs ready made...

and then there are not

i am a "not"

i went with a list... and came home with it all

new and vintage lace

the new
from truro cornwall

the vintage
i have had a thing for monograms
since i was a very little girl

 such an elegant name-tag

i have been studying them for years and was thrilled when victoria magazine devoted a whole issue to them earlier this year

twenty-five years ago i bought a special piece of linen, thread and an italian cutwork book so i could make something monogrammed - i am almost ready to tackle it... but in the meantime i buy them when i see them and can afford it

more vintage
i found my vintage lace in york

english floral fabric


also from cornwall

i couldn't buy much of this, not sure what i am doing with it knowing i am allergic, but i loved it too much to leave it behind - i'm tempted to fringe it and leave it whole...


"glenlyon from aberfeldy"
the colours influenced by the surrounding glen (valley)

so said the charming young man in full highland regalia (he wore his kilt sooo well) who was curious as to what i would make with it

i told him i had no idea but that i would likely pet it every day until i decided

dark mother of pearl buttons from a charity shop in stow-on-the-wold

a tiny bracelet bought for 50p in a charity shop to be cut up for parts... now i am not sure i can bring myself to do it...

corset hooks from john lewis in london - a truly wonderful shop!

lace, also from john lewis

another bracelet from a charity shop bought for parts

teeny, tiny little polka dot buttons to make more of these...

vintage buttons from duttons for buttons in york

 this beauty was also bought in york

a pewter rose button purchased in inverness on the way to the bus station to go tillicoultry
i will always think of that day when i look at this button - it will have to go on something very special i think

from tourist information in dover, kent
i couldn't help myself - i love the red, white and blue
i really badly wanted to buy a length of flag bunting but it was just so expensive and by that time i had spent my budget - so i contented myself with these pretties and i'll make my own

and now, the shirt...

one thing on my list was men's shirting fabric

one thing on my to do list was to visit savile row
the geographic society was there, at #1 
(think mt. everest expeditions)

the beatle's apple offices at #3
(think their last live performance on the roof top )

and men's bespoke tailoring in the shops

there was just no time so it's at the top of my list for the next trip

i didn't come home quite empty-handed though

in a charity shop in stow, i found a brand new pin-striped one hundred percent cotton men's shirt

for only two pounds


i'll cut the buttons off and take it apart

that night in the b & b as i pulled the day's finds from my bag, marc pounced on the shirt immediately

he also knows a good men's shirt when he sees one...

"you bought me a shirt" he grinned

"ah, er... well, no i didn't"

"it's for fabric"

completely ignoring me he did his own version of tom cruise in risky business and fairly danced around the b & b, buttoning it up as he went

thankfully i had bought this size...

and it was too big!

fast forward to another charity shop in york...

and another just as nice plaid shirt, brand new, complete with tags

only three pounds

nicer buttons on this one
(i am a more discerning shirt-for-parts shopper now)

and thank heavens it was a small

so there you have it, some of my favourite treasures from our grand tour

i know i am not alone in not buying my treasures from foreign lands ready-made

as we passed through canadian customs i had to explain to the fellow there just what i had brought back with me

i got as far as fabric, ribbon, lace, buttons and he smiled, stamped my card and welcomed me home

Sunday, October 27, 2013

oops...we did it again

way back at the beginning of our trip i did a post about meeting up with this lady...

monica is an artist of many talents living in the cotswolds and we spent a wonderful afternoon together touring the garden of an english manor house, sharing a wonderful lunch and then poking around in the charity shops at stow-on-the-wold

we both found treasures that day - mine was a man's shirt
(which i'll tell you about tomorrow)

her's was a soup tureen, platter and other pieces of china in a beautiful brown transferware featuring coloured pheasants and canada geese

so much fun...

when we were in the garden, standing on a raised section that over-looked the pastures and valleys below, monica surprised me with a gift

she gave me one of her original mixed media paintings

but this isn't just any painting...

this is the one that graces the pages of the november issue of somerset studio magazine!

what a wonderful surprise that was, and what a wonderful treasure it is

to view a close-up, click here to go to monica's etsy shop where she sells some of her original works, along with prints of others, like the one she has given me

she also has an etsy shop featuring her handmade scarves and hearts among other treasures

i promise you'll be amazed by her talent!

my beautiful butterfly


fast forward to several weeks later, way down in truro, cornwall

trundling in and out of charity shops, looking for a harris tweed jacket for the man
i stumbled upon three red transferware side plates

i have always loved red transferware and never found any - never even seen it in real life

three plates for three pounds 
too good a deal to pass up even if there were only three

carefully packed in bubble wrap, and even more carefully stowed, they were my most treasured souvenir...

that night i received an email from monica wondering how our trip was, where we had been, and telling me how she had unpacked and arranged the brown transferware bought that day in Stow, and how it would remind her of our special day

when i replied, i told her about my find, and that even though it wasn't brown, it was from a charity shop and would always make me think of her

and that we had decided to go back to Stow for our last two nights, before flying home

when we travel, we always like to end on a happy note so it's nice to be able to go back to a favourite place -  it's easier at the end of a long trip to be able to just get off the train, know exactly which bus to catch, where to get off, and where the b & b is
(yep, we went back to the same one!)

so when monica suggested we meet for coffee i happily accepted!

we got ourselves settled with coffee and cake (of course!)
and then a great smile stole over her face as she reached into her bag and pulled out a package, presenting me with a big box, beautifully wrapped...

and inside, were six red transferware side plates!

and in a separate package was a large dinner plate

i nearly fell off my chair!

she said she hoped i had room for them...

i would have thrown out my clothes to make room, but luckily marc had space and he took charge of all of them, getting them home safe and sound with nary a chip nor a scratch

such a gracious and generous gift!

she also gave me a little packet saying i couldn't open it until later, in the hotel room

on our first visit we were talking about the things we find whilst traveling, and how my pockets are like those of a child - rocks, sticks, plants etc. all seem to find a way into them
(i'm always afraid customs will find my stash and take it away...)

i mentioned i have often looked for the heart shaped rocks others seem to find so easily, but never have found one of my one

in fact, i looked everywhere we went - all my special places... the haworth moors, tillicoultry, culloden, cornwall... nothing - not a one

so i was incredibly touched when  opened the envelope and out tumbled these pretties

tiny, beautiful heart-rocks

wonderful gifts from a lovely person with a generous spirit

 my friend

Monday, October 21, 2013


ahhh, york

york was our favourite

like paris years ago, we didn't expect it to be... it just couldn't be helped

long ago, in the early planning days, i was corresponding back and forth with wendy of the crafter's apprentice blog, telling her of the places we planned to go

she was surprised there were almost no cities on the list

"well, you must go to york", she said
"even if you go nowhere else - go to york"

and so we did

york is steeped in history - with every twist and turn of the tiny cobbled streets still contained with the ancient city walls

we walked the city wall early on a saturday morning, looking out from the ramparts in every direction, both within and without the city walls

marveling at just how much fun it would be to be a kid again and find a posse to play knights in shining armour with

(some kids get the best backyards!)

the beauty of york minster...

the history...

constantine the great was crowned emperor of rome there in 306 a.d.

names from history books take on new meaning when you walk where they themselves placed their feet

we spent a few hours touring through the railway museum

my favourite part was the royal trains

the bunting hanging overhead, adding a touch of glory

i love the idea of historical travel

nowadays it's all about how quickly and efficiently they can get you, and a whole herd,  from point a to b, with the least possible cost or disruption

for what it's worth, i'd rather get there in comfort and style and enjoy the journey 
(which is why we indulged in hot chocolate and shortbread on almost every train day!)

don't you think the picture below has "grand tour" written all over it?

this trip was so important to me but i didn't want to put a pile of expectations on it

rather, i wanted it, and england to be as they were, letting me just draw them in, enjoying them for what they were

but i couldn't help hoping i would get to hear the pipes whilst we were there, especially when we were in scotland

after our day trip to kyle of localsh, on the shores of western scotland, we walked back to our b & b, through the gathering dark

the moon shone on the river, with the castle, glowing brightly against the dark sky, high atop the hill overlooking inverness and in it's shadow, a young man stood on the street corner playing the pipes... 

it was pretty darn wonderful

but it was late and we couldn't loiter... we listened to one song, and then moved along...

on our last day in york, an hour before we had to catch the train, we came upon this...

a wonderful pipe band, complete with scottish dancers

when they began to play the tears flowed and to my embarrassment, i cried the whole time

great big alligator tears - the kind you can't be discreet about - yeesh
thankfully i had a pocket full of tissue

afterward, marc asked me why i cried and i couldn't really answer him - probably still couldn't

family, history, memories, desire, freedom, life, joy, spirit
all of those things and more were wrapped up in the music they played

i remembered when i took highland dancing

i was very little and not very good... i usually finished my dance at least a minute ahead of everyone else...

maybe that's why i was crying!

Sunday, October 20, 2013

salisbury (not steak)

yep, you read that right

we went to salisbury, the place
it wasn't on the itinerary but we went anyway... as the days ran out on us and we treasured each more, the itinerary went out the window and we made it up as we went, from the heart...

the salisbury cathedral has the tallest spire in england, reaching high above the city-scape, gilding this beautiful building that was begun in 1220 a.d.

 many beautiful statues of all different sizes adorn the outer walls

and an imposing entryway

 the view from the side

salisbury was a highlight of our trip

there's a fabulous fabric/needlework shop there too you know

and we had the very best fish and chips and mushy peas of the whole trip in salisbury

marc enjoyed afternoon tea for two, and proved it can be for one 
(minus two very small pieces of delicious cake that i helped myself to!)

when we chose to go to salisbury it was primarily because of it's proximity to several museums of interest... but getting to them without a car proved to be "difficult" and so, in the end, we decided to go to stonehenge...

 out on the salisbury plain, on a gentle knoll, stand these stones

it was never on our list to come to them - too touristy, i think, was our feeling - i hate anything that requires jostling with the cast of thousands for my little piece of real estate in order to take in something special

but, we went

when you walk up the path from the visitor centre, the first view is somewhat unimpressive... to be truthful, it was the first time on our trip that i saw something that disappointed... they looked a bit of a jumble, and not really all that big...

 they're roped off, so you are kept well back of them - too many daft idiots trying to chip off a souvenir, it seems

but there is a pathway that leads you all around it, with benches here and there, and as we had paid dearly to see it, we began to walk around

 we walked along, trying to keep to ourselves, fighting the eternal wind, and every so often, turning our heads to look at the stones

and as we walked, the stones gained in significance and the people disappeared  

 and the remnants of the ancient circle slowly took shape

 with each step, the stones seemed to grow in size

 and as we came full circle on the path, so too did the stones and the iconic vista

the crows taunted me, this one especially

he flitted from stone, to stone and would sometimes sit for a while, calling out to us

"na-na, na-na, na, na"

it was easy to ignore them though - easy to ignore everything really, and slide into the wonderment of why, of how, and of whom

and then i was so glad we went... so very, very glad

from there we went to old sarum, the older settlement, high on the hill, over-looking the salisbury of today

old sarum was built 200 years prior, and when the decision was made to build a new cathedral down in the valley, the stone from the old was used... today, only the footings of old sarum remain, laying out the design of a castle and a cathedral that once carried great significance, built by william the conqueror...

it's so hard to find perspective when talking about not just hundreds of years ago, but whole centuries gone by

we just don't have that history here

but there is something so comforting about it, to know that in this world full of doom and gloom and war and squabbling, that life goes on

 we're home now, safe and sound

a little jet-lagged but i don't mind so much - for now, it's a tangible reminder i was somewhere

with yard-work, and house-work and work-work all crowding in i know i'll be back to normal in no time

i have many more posts i still want to do about our trip, many more things to tell you - if you aren't too bored with it yet

 i want to post more often... the dilemma is, i won't be able to respond to your comments very well
(i know, i know, not like i do now, but i do try!)
so if you don't mind, then i'll give it a go

in the next few days i hope to get around to all of you that have blogs and see what you yourself have been up to these past five weeks, and enjoy reading your stories

and then tell you a few more of my own...