Monday, 30 March 2009

Highcliffe Castle

I've had a lovely day today. I went with a neighbour (and new friend) to Highcliffe Castle near Christchurch. She was exhibiting some of her work at the ceramics exhibition and had to replenish stocks of sold items.

The vase in the foreground was my favourite piece. The blue was so striking and I love its irregular shape. There was also a textiles exhibition with some amazing pieces on display. I can't imagine the amount of work that must be involved in creating these masterpieces. This piece was embroidered paper and wire in the most lovely shade of pink.

The castle was built during the 1830s by Lord Stuart de Rothesay. It sits on the clifftop and overlooks Christchurch Bay and the Needles on the Isle of Wight (I'm not sure if you will see them but they are on the horizon in this picture).

In 1967 it was bought by three businessmen for £21,000 but just before this sale a fire badly damaged the Great Hall and another the following year caused more devastation. The weather and vandals caused the castle to become a ruin. In 1977 Christchurch borough Council purchased what was left of the ruin for £65,000 and in 1994 the council and English Heritage began a phased scheme to repair and conserve the building. With a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund much of the castle has been restored.

It is easy to walk down to the beach from the castle but beware of the hang gliders!

Aren't we having some wonderful weather? The only gardening I did at the weekend was to pick these flowers!

Wednesday, 25 March 2009


Today I went shopping to an outlet shopping centre at Portsmouth with a friend. Rather than drive on the motorway we went by ferry which takes you across from Gosport to HMS Warrior.

Many years ago when my husband was in the navy we had pre dinner drinks on this ship before a summer ball. You can now get married on here too as it is licensed for marriage ceremonies. What a wonderful venue. You can just see the building where I once worked in the background. My office window overlooked HMS Victory. It was a bonus that it had a good view as it was the most boring job!

Beside the shops is the Spinnaker tower, 170 metres tall. I haven't been to the top as I just hate heights!The first shop we visited was Jack Wills and my friend was surprised to see this jacket, which her daughter designed, on display. (She now designs for Boden).

After a very nice lunch we got down to some serious buying. My friend is a beautician and always 'encourages' me to buy makeup and face creams when we go shopping together. I usually end up buying them in the hope that they will make me look as good as she does!

The lady who lives opposite me is a potter and has her own kiln. On Monday I am going to Highcliffe Castle with her where she is exhibiting some of her work. When we moved her she gave me this very unusual vase in the shape of a female torso which she had made and I love it. I think it looks great displaying these grape hyacinths but equally good just on its own.

Tuesday, 24 March 2009

Art Group

A friend of mine has started an artists discussion group and has been asking me for a while to come along so this morning I decided to. It was very informal and I really enjoyed it. They had been studying the work of Piet Mondrian famous for his abstract pictures. Most people will be familiar with his paintings like this one
but I wasn't aware that this is his later work and previous to these his style couldn't be more different. I particularly like this chrysanthemum

and this little girl.

I also went to my reading group last week. The next book we are to read seems to be reprinting and unavailable from Amazon etc. so I decided to see if my local library had it. We have lived here for 11 months and I haven't joined the library as I do like my books to be brand new when I read them. Well they didn't have the book or a couple of others I looked for, nor did they seem to have any classics on the shelves. When I enquired where I would find anything by Dickens or Hardy I was told that they keep all the classics in their office as there doesn't seem to be the demand for them (I refrained from saying of course there can't be any demand for them if they aren't on the shelves). I decided not to join the library after all!

Last Friday Jane (the other half of Oh So Vintage) and I travelled up to Shepton Mallett to the antiques fair and managed to buy quite a lot. We were particularly looking for linens as they sell well on the website and we find it difficult sourcing them. It was a very tiring day (particularly as we took several detours on the way - too much chatting and not enough sign reading, plus a sat nav that has a dicky connection and keeps going off). I took my camera but was too busy looking for bargains to take any photos.

Saturday, 21 March 2009

Mothering Sunday

Tomorrow is Mothering Sunday and I hope all you mums out there have a wonderful day.

My son has decided to leave home and is planning to share a house with a couple of friends. He leaves on Friday. This poem by C Day Lewis is rather apt.

Walking Away

It is eighteen years ago, almost to the day –
A sunny day with leaves just turning,
The touch-lines new-ruled – since I watched you play
Your first game of football, then, like a satellite
Wrenched from its orbit, go drifting away

Behind a scatter of boys. I can see
You walking away from me towards the school
With the pathos of a half-fledged thing set free
Into a wilderness, the gait of one
Who finds no path where the path should be.

That hesitant figure, eddying away
Like a winged seed loosened from its parent stem,
Has something I never quite grasp to convey
About nature’s give-and-take – the small, the scorching
Ordeals which fire one’s irresolute clay.

I have had worse partings, but none that so
Gnaws at my mind still. Perhaps it is roughly
Saying what God alone could perfectly show –
How selfhood begins with a walking away,
And love is proved in the letting go.

Wednesday, 18 March 2009

Enjoying the Sunshine

Hasn't the weather been glorious? I have walked to the beach every day this week. On Sunday I was accompanied by a daughter and husband.

We usually come back laden with driftwood but this time we collected more hag stones which I have previously blogged about. It's amazing how many you can find.

Last evening I went to se the Queen Victoria film which was excellent and I can thoroughly recommend. Today I have been doing my least favourite chore - going to the tip! After that I did five hours gardening so guess where I'll be going again tomorrow?

Hope you are enjoying the sunshine.

Saturday, 14 March 2009

Cornish Pasties

I didn't live in Cornwall for 28 years without learning that you NEVER refer to a pasty as 'Cornish'. A pasty is a pasty. Yesterday I made 33 (yes 33!) pasties. We are having a party tonight, a sort of 'launch the new kitchen party' (well, any excuse for a get together with friends!). I decided rather than doing lots of buffet things to have a 'pasty supper'. I adore pasties but rarely make them as all the preparation is so time consuming. In fact the best part of the day was taken up with this task!

I started making my own pastry but resorted to using ready made (well, if it's good enough for Delia, it's good enough for me).

I find a production line is best and a friend called to help me keep the bowls topped up, peeling and chopping.

One down, 32 more to go!! Apologies to any Cornish readers - I have never perfected the art of crimping and this is the best I can do.
This week we had the new gas fire installed in the kitchen. It's great becasue it swivels round so that it can be pointed to wherever you are wanting the heat.
The CAFE sign is now on the wall. It certainly felt like a cafe doing all that cooking.

Here are some more photos of the kitchen. There is still painting to finish (skirting boards and door frames) and I haven't really 'dressed' the room yet as I want to introduce a lot more vintage items.

Above the island we have a double horse's yoke we bought in France several years ago. When I saw it I thought it would look great as a light fitting but when it came to it we couldn't bring ourselves to 'deface' it so the spotlights hang above the yoke.

Sunday, 8 March 2009

Sew Busy

I bought a couple of grain sacks at an antiques fair recently intending to make them into 'things'. Having bought them, I was very reluctant to cut them up especially as they're not cheap (it's making that first snip, isn't it?) but today I now have two cushions ......
(which ought to go on the website but I think they would look just right in the new kitchen)
.....and a heart.

I also made a cushion from this French monogrammed 'R' and some Laura Ashley fabric.

I like collecting items bearing my initial (especially linens) and it's very handy to have a daughter with the same initial to pass them on to! Here are just a few

a papier mache brooch, a key, a Victorian sewing box
and a tin bearing my middle name (which as a child/teenager I really disliked).
How about posting some photos of anything you have with your initial/monogram and, as a matter of interest, are there any other Ruths out there who visit my blog?