Friday, July 31, 2009

Of cabbages, kings and thrift shops!

From "The Pleasures of Gardening" by Angela Stanford

I love thrift, or charity shops, the pleasure of going in and never knowing quite what I'll find, the thrill of spotting something special (well special to me anyway), knowing that I won't be charged the earth for it and the little I do pay will go towards supporting a good cause. We have 2 or 3 in Kingsbridge and I patronise them all. Some very wealthy people live, or holiday, in the South Hams and so there are often real finds to be had.

I search for vintage textiles, old shirts, pillowcases and blankets, all of which can be cut up and remade into DevonBears products as I adore patchwork and applique and have recently been moving back towards "painting with fabric" rather than watercolours, after all, fabric has always been my first love ....

As well as textiles I adore books of all kinds and was fortunate enough to come across a real treasure in Oxfam earlier this week. It's called "The Pleasures of Gardening" by an enormously talented lady called Angela Stanford - and my copy is signed by her too!! Sadly, after checking on Amazon and the publisher's website it would seem that the book is out of print, and I haven't been able to find anything out about Angela, but I would urge you to look for this book - it's wonderful. I love the way she combines beautiful detailed watercolours with flawless calligraphy and still manages to impart some useful facts. The pictures below (and the one at the top of this post) come from the summer section ...

Not that I've been in the garden very much this month. June was glorious, but July has been every bit as bad as the last two years and I don't think we've been promised much improvement in August. The fig tree at the top of the garden loves all this warm damp weather though and is busy creating its own rain forest, together with the hydrangeas which are romping away and the rambling rose which has rambled over everything creating a sort of jungle effect. I really must do some pruning - last night Ben woke me up 3 times convinced there were tigers at the top of the garden - and who knows, he could well have been right!!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Kingsbridge in Bloom

The Quay at Kingsbridge

Over the last few weeks Kingsbridge has been a hive of activity as the town prepared for its 2009 Britain in Bloom entry. There have been a lot of unkind comments about Britain in Bloom over the years, but I think that any initiative which encourages us, as a community, to take a pride in our environment must be positive - whether you're a fan of bedding schemes and hanging baskets or not .... surely they're better than graffitti and litter?

Anyway, lots of teams of volunteers have been spotted weeding, pruning, training and planting all over the town. Local businesses put pots of flowers out each morning and the larger companies have sponsored tubs and other features. Even the W.I. has a boat planted out !!!

And the committee commissioned a beautiful map of the judging route from a local artist ... I think it's great and hope it's used again next year...

And finally ... from my well-thumbed Book of Days - on July29 1907 Robert Baden-Powell took a group of boys to Brownsea Island in Poole Harbour, on the south coast of England, for what was effectively the first Scout camp. The aim was to try out some of the ideas that were to become the basic principles and activities of the Scout movement; fostering a sense of honour, loyalty and good citizenship; achieving physical fitness through exercise; and developing practical skills such as woodcraft, tracking, observation, signalling and first aid. The boys were divided into 4 patrols, each assigned a tent for sleeping quarters. Morning prayers were followed by drills, games and instruction, interspersed with quiet rest periods and the day ended with stories around the campfire. The experiment was deemed to be a great success, and Scouting was born.

Just think - if the weather had been as truly awful as it has been today, then the Scouting movement might never have got off the ground, but sunk in the mud instead - just like the poor campers out at Lannacombe.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The world has gone mad!

When I was a very small girl - probably even a baby - many many moons ago, I was given a set of Noddy figurines. I can't remember a time when I didn't have them, they stood on my bedroom windowsill throughout my childhood, and have remained with me through the traumas of adolescence, 25 years of marriage and my own motherhood - although Rosie was never allowed to have them! Here they are ....

... and I have just seen Big Ears alone on Ebay for £125!!!!! Yes, £125!! Somehow I've never thought of my own possessions as becoming vintage collectables, but I guess they are ... as Rosie says .. "You're just soooo last century Mum."

Sunday, July 12, 2009

A visit to Bath

Last week Townie Husband said, "I know, let's meet in Bath next weekend." I said, "What a great idea!" So we did. I love Bath, its wonderful honey-coloured architecture, quirky streets and welcoming pubs - the shops are great too of course, and I can get a retail fix not possible down here in deepest Devon.

On Friday I took the dogs to their favourite kennels - on our arrival they were practically begging the owner, a lovely lady called Gillian, to let them inside - then suddenly they were gone - not even a nonchalant wave of the tail as they disappeared - simply gone! So I turned the car around and headed back to a strangely empty home. And next morning caught the train to Bath.

I'm not used to visiting Bath in the summer months - husband of course is a keen supporter of their Rugby team which means our expeditions are generally confined to the season and the town is full of genial supporters quaffing large quantities of ale in a cheerful fashion. On this visit the rugby supporters had been replaced by chattering hoards of foreign students - all perfectly well-behaved, but somewhat overwhelming in their numbers. The gardens looked wonderful ...

and there was a pleasure boat moored alongside the weir. I hadn't realised that the weir was only built in 1972 until I read the sign on the balustrades - somehow it seems as though it must have been there as long as Pultney Bridge - all credit to the designers and engineers - so often architecture from that period is so out of sympathy with its surroundings.

Summer means flowers, and the florists on the Pultney Bridge had a colourful display ...

The hanging baskets outside this chemist's shop were beautiful - check out the fantastic lion and unicorn crest over the door

Here's a closeup ...

And the display of bath bombs in the window at Lush was as colourful as any flower arrangement. I had to make a selection of my favourites to bring home - we don't have Lush in Kingsbridge(!) and although it's possible to order online, it's great to go in for a dose of olefactory wonderfulness!

Then some rest and refreshment was required. The Salamander has always been a favourite and was much less crowded on this visit!

OK, we did spend a while in the pub - but why did I start seeing strange giant hares and a Minotaur? An art installation as it turned out, and from reading both the official and unofficial signs one which has invoked very mixed feelings - I do think that describing it as created from old coat hangers and looking like a shop fitting is a bit cruel, although I'm not sure whether I like them or not. They're only temporary anyway and were certainly creating a lot of interest.

In the end I didn't spend very much - Cath Kidston had a sale and I purchased some lovely fabric remnants which are sure to appear in some of my designs - I loved the racing car fabric which I used in my Vroom Vroom Quilt and was delighted to find it in the sale.

Then home .. and off to collect the Newfies tomorrow - if they want to come home!

Monday, July 6, 2009

Amy, Queen of the Fete

Saturday was our Parish Fete day. We were lucky - the sun shone and the skies were blue, loads of people came and the money rolled in! Amy attended as a competition once more ... this year she was "Guess my Birthday". Here she is proudly sitting next to her prize, a cushion featuring the signs of the Zodiac (made by me!). What you can't see in this photo is her harness,

And it hasn't come out very well in this photo ... it actually gives details of the competition and asks, "Am I a Furgo? Or maybe a Pawsces? I might even be a Hairies! Scpawpio? Or not?" I can hear the collective groan!! Anyway, she did really well, raising nearly £25 which is a lot of 25 pences.

Similar to Amy's prize and available for sale on DevonBear Designs.

And of course Amy always enjoys the opportunity to meet her young fans!
The fete was held in the grounds of Stokenham House which has wonderful views down towards the sweep of Start Bay. The lawns were soon dotted with people simply sitting, enjoying their icecreams and the wonderful gardens.

The icecream stall did a roaring trade

So did the raffleWhilst there was face painting, Splat the Rat, a coconut shy and other events in the field. People came from far and wide to enjoy themselves, and it was a hot, happy and totally exhausting afternoon. There was jazz in the Church House Inn, the pub next to the church on the village green and the merry making went on well into the evening. Then we went home, to be met by an irate Ben who demanded to know where Amy had been and why he hadn't gone too!
Maybe next year Ben!
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