Friday, 26 August 2011

The Tale of Jane's Studio

Once upon a time a crafter called Jane dreamed of having a workspace of her own. From her earliest days as a little girl  she occupied many hours "making and doing" wherever there was a space..the kitchen side, the dining room table, her bedroom floor and many even more unusual places.

When Jane got married for a while she lived in a tiny one bedroom flat where there was little space  for much crafting. She took up cake decorating, as this could be achieved in a small space on her kitchen side. After 2 years had passed her and her Hb moved into their very own  house where she had 3 whole bedrooms. For nearly 5 years she had her own room to craft in and set out her sewing, knitting and other crafts. She had a ball. She made curtain and blinds, lampshades and all sorts of other items. It was crafting paradise.

In 1986 the first of the 2 miracles occurred, her Darling Daughter was born and the craft room became the nursery. Jane was so busy with this bundle of joy that her crafting was not missed too much, she still managed her cake decorating and knitting.

February 1989 arrived and so did miracle number 2, her Precious Son. Darling Daughter moved into bedroom 3 as Precious Son now needed the nursery. And so the house was full! With 2 little miracles Jane had many, many happy years of making and doing with her own children. Her own projects (except the annual birthday cakes of course) were again put on hold.

Time passed and both children grew up, Darling Daughter moved into her own home and Precious Son although still living at home, came and went (as all 22 year old son's do!). He came more often than he went as he did still rather like having clean washing and a nice comfy bedroom to sleep in. Jane also took up a new craft, silver smithing and jewellery making - and still there was no permanent space for Jane's Making and Doing as people often came to stay in the spare bedroom. Jane's crafts were carried out on the dining room table much to the dismay of Patient Husband. Many a day he would come home from work on one of Jane's non work (paid work of course!)days and find every surface in the dining room covered with crafting items. He would smile, make a small gap on the table where he could place his dinner plate, and sit down to eat amongst the beads, wires, glues and papers. He never, ever complained.

The years raced by and in July  2010 Jane and Darling Daughter were at the Hampton Court Flower show admiring all the greenhouses, sheds and other lovely buildings when an idea emerged. There was an old shed at the end of the garden which once housed the pet guinea pigs. Those dear souls had long gone up to the great lawn in the sky. Why not take the old shed down and put up a small studio for Jane's crafting? And so began the studio project overseen by Patient Husband.

It took nearly a year to sort out, design, find a good shed manufacturer and all the rest but just look what appeared at the end of her garden this week........*SQUEAL*

Jane's brand new purpose built studio. It has 2 opening windows, a glazed door, a little veranda outside where she can sit in the shade or shelter from the rain. (There will be much drinking of tea here).
Inside there is an area by the window where her workbench will be set. She can craft away looking out to her little garden to her heart's content. At the moment there is no power or shelving but this is all in progress.She also plans some blinds and flooring.It will be a perfect workspace and no more will Patient Husband have to share his dinner with all things crafty.

So after over 40 years of making and doing Jane has finally got a space of her own. How lucky is she and how very kind her dear Patient Husband  is to have organised it for her..................he may even be invited down for tea ;0)

And the moral of this story......Good things come to those who wait (even if it does take 40 years and 2 little miracles in the making).

And the final seal of approval.....
Well hello Mr Billy, do come on in.........................please wipe those paws....

Bye for now, it's a Bank Holiday weekend, enjoy it if you also have one :0)

Jane ( a very, very happy girl...and a very, very big thank you M)

Sunday, 21 August 2011

Feeling hot, hot, hot..........

I have been so busy with my holiday and days out posts that I have not had time to update you all with my garden. I want to show you the results today of my experiment with my chile seeds.If you remember I bought a tiny propagator back in the spring.
I am delighted to show you the end results..

Just look at my chillies ripening. I have no less than 8 plants ( I gave some away) and they are all producing lots of yummy fruits. I am going to leave a few on to turn red.

I started these plants in my little propagator on my window sill back in March
Very quickly they needed to be potted on and I made my own little cloches using plastic drinks bottles, old jars and anything else which would keep the young plants warm.

By Easter they were all getting quite big and I started to acclimatise them to my kitchen by removing their cloches.

After waiting some time for the temperature to rise in the garden I finally put them outside and waited for them to flower.

And flower they certainly did! I have cropped at least 20 fruits so far and there are so many to come as long as the weather holds warm.

They are the Jalapeno variety so quite mild, I really am not a fan of spicey food but they give a gorgeous warmth to my home made chile con carne and my Choritzo feast dinner.
These beauties I harvested  on Thursday night....

They got chopped up and added to our dinner....yum!

Served with rice, parmesan cheese sprinkled on top and a glass of chilled rose wine.....perfect!

These have been so straightforward to grow that I am thinking of trying a couple of more exotic varieties next year. We plan to havest as many chilies as possible as they also dry really well. They can they just be crumbled into dinners and give a gorgeous memory of sunny days in the garden.

I hope you enjoyed the weekend, it stayed dry for us and we really enjoyed the barbeque yesterday. I have just finished tidying my garden in the sunshine. All my plants have also been given a welcome drink whilst Billy has slept in the shade. Phew, time for a sit down and a cup of tea. Have a great week.

Bye for now,

Jane x

Thursday, 18 August 2011

My Royal Visit

The long awaited day arrived and I set off on the train up to Victoria Railway station knowing that I would soon see "The Dress" in the flesh.

I am lucky to be able to get up to Victoria within 30 minutes from my local railway station. Buckingham Palace is only a few minutes walk from the station.

I arranged to meet my Mum and my Aunt at Victoria at 10.15 am so that we would have plenty of time to arrive for our 10.45am slot at the Palace, they are all timed tickets.

As we made our way past the gates of the Palace we saw lot of a adverts for the opening of the State Rooms. It was very busy in the area.

Eventually we found our way to the correct gate and then had to queue to get through security.

Once through security obviously (sadly) we were unable to take any further photos so I will give a written guide to what I saw.

Everyone was given a free audio guide which worked really well as it kept the crowds moving all the time. Several of the State rooms in all their glory were open to the public. We entered and walked up the red carpet of the main staircase. Even the decoration of the bannister's were dripping gold leaf and intricate designs.   One of my favourite rooms was the Throne Room where the formal photos of William and Kate's wedding were. The decoration in there was just magical.

After meandering through the opulence of the different reception rooms we arrived at where "The Dress" was on display. There was almost a hush from the crowd as we approached. Then everyone seemed to gasp. The dress is in the centre of the room with special netting around to protect it. In the flesh it is just stunning. The detail of the back of the dress which has folds like a flower bud are wonderful. Every piece of lace was made by hand and stitched on by hand. It is a very pale ivory colour.  The needlewoman used new needles every 3 hours to keep them sharp. Also on display was Kate's diamond tiara, a replica of her flowers, her diamond earrings and her lace covered shoes. I was surprised to see that she wore very high heels for the day...."killer heels" as my daughter would describe them. The same lace was used on the shoes as on  her dress.

Through in the next room was their wedding cake which I thought was as spectacular as the dress and a joy to see. Here is a link to it. As a fellow cake maker I could see the skill in making all those wonderful flowers in sugar paste. The attention to detail was phenomenal.17 different flowers and leaves were included which all had special meanings in the "Language of flowers".

After finishing our tour we were able to sit outside and have lunch in the garden cafe, and also take some photos!
This is the back exit of the Palace leading into the gardens.

With my zoom I managed to get a photo of one of the chandeliers through an open window. The lights were an exhibition all of their own. They sparkled brilliantly and were so large they hung like huge dripping waterfalls of gems from the ceilings.

On the left below is the garden cafe where we enjoyed some lunch. I had a smoked salmon bagel, cup of tea and.................

No less than Buckingham Palace strawberry ice cream....yum!
We then were able to stroll round the footpath of some of the garden towards the shop
We then headed further round the garden and enjoyed some splendid views of the back of the Palace.
and some of the garden and the lake..

So what did I bring home...well I bought the post card which I have shown a photo of at the very beginning of this post, here is it's reverse...a "real" Royal postcard..
and as I bought a CK tea towel at the time of the wedding I though I would buy one at the Palace too.

It's very pretty and will also be useful, I do like souvenirs that I can actually enjoy using. Much better than something sitting in a cabinet or hidden away.

If you get a chance, do go to see "The Dress", it is worth the time. One other thing, if you buy your tickets on line and "gift aid" the money (if you are a UK tax Payer) you can get your ticket stamped at the exit and it becomes a whole year pass. Seriously.....I can go back again, as many times as I want, before 18th August 2012. My daughter really wanted to come today but work commitments stopped her. However I can now wait until she can take a day off and I can go back with her before the exhibition shuts in October. I can also go again when the State rooms re open next Summer, how good is that?

I hope you enjoyed you visit with me. Wishing you all a wonderful weekend, we're nearly there again. It's been quite dull weather wise this week here in Surrey. We are off to a family and soon to be "In Laws" barbecue on Saturday. It will be fun, what ever the weather.
Enjoy your weekend and thanks always for your visits and comments.

Bye for now,

Jane x

Sunday, 14 August 2011

Red House, blue blog

I don't know if any of you will notice but I have had a play around with the design of my blog. When I started writing Jane's Journal, over a year ago now, I just used the default blogger design. I thought I would now spice this up a little. I have added the photo I took at St. Pancras of "Brief Encounter", the huge bronze sculpture on the platform, before we boarded the Eurostar to Paris recently.I really love that photo and has some great memories attached to it for me.  I also changed the background to a blue background. I find that far more relaxing. I'm afraid I am not computer savvy enough to do anything too clever and I do admire how wonderful some of your blogs look but I personally like my new look. I hope you do too?

As promised  I am back with a post from my recent trip to Red House, where William Morris lived and the Arts and Crafts movement was born. This National Trust owned property is in the most unlikely area of Bexleyheath, a fairly unglamorous part of South East London. Of course when it was built in 1860 it was out in the open countryside far, far away from the noise of London. There is a large brick wall surrounding this gem of a building, the only give away of what lay inside was a plaque....shown below.

Red House is a relatively small property, by National Trust standards. It is only open a few days a week and can only be viewed by booking a guided tour. These tours only take a dozen or so people around,so it really feels like an intimate visit.

William Morris was a very rich man; he inherited a vast sum of  money and a copper mine from his father. He decided to build Red House as a place where he and his fellow artists and poet friends, the Pre Raphaelite brothers, could gather and try out their new ideas. He bought an orchard in Bexleyheath and together with Philip Webb tried to bring his medieval/Gothic architectural ideas to life by designing and having built Red House.
Rossetti and Burne-Jones were just two of the artists who shared his home with him for some years.

As we walked through the gate we saw the building
for the first time.

It does have a Gothic feel to it and although the original gardens have long disappeared there are still plenty of the old apple tress from the original orchard. The guide told us that when the house was first built you could open any window and pick an apple!

Even the huge front door has a lock  mechanism that Morris asked his architect to mimic a medieval lock. He really was obsessed with all things medieval.
Just imagine how many now world famous artists and poets passed through this door in its time....I wonder if there were aware just how powerful their influence on art would be?

Once inside we found ourselves in a small hallway where immediately we were able to see evidence of some wonderful stained glass work by Burne-Jones. The windows had images of Faith and Love.

The details on the glass were quite exquisite.

Also further into the hallway was a dresser with half finished paintings showing Morris and his friends with their wives/girlfriends. Don't ask about was very much who was sleeping with who. It turns out that Morris's wife, Jane actually despised him!

Once inside we were also able to see the huge front door again with its ornate glass

We also found out that Morris insisted, despite having a dining room, that they all ate in the hall just as people did in Medieval times. He really was quite eccentric! He also had a fear of contained spaces so there are no normal ceilings anywhere in the house, every room goes up into a lofty space.

The National Trust only has a few rooms open to the public but those we saw were spectacular.

This wonderful embroidered piece was one of 12 that Morris had planned to use to make a huge tapestry wall hanging but only this one was ever finished. It was never even cut off the backing material and you could see little tiny practice stitching and even sketching on the fabric. You can see these in the next close up photo.

One very interesting fact I learnt is that Morris was not actually an artist himself. He was a designer and did not paint. If he had a design someone else would paint it for him.  He did though stitch this wonderful piece together with one of the artist's wives.

This was the library, look at the tall strange ceiling! Apparently this also made the house very cold.

More wonderful stained glass

Also on show were some of the original blocks used to make the famous wall paper patterns known by us all.
After coming back down stairs we took a tour around the garden. As I said earlier, these are not original but were still very pretty.

I really did enjoy walking in the steps of a band of "Brothers" who influenced the artistic world both during their lifetime and now.
If you ever get a chance to visit this little National Trust gem, do!

I hope  your are enjoying a wonderful weekend? It's not been the sunniest week here but it is still pleasantly warm. I am off to see THE DRESS on Thursday, I am so looking forward to it. Thanks for visiting my corner of the world and I  hope to see you here again next week.

Bye for now,

Jane x