Sunday, 12 July 2009

Continuing with the Venetian theme in my reading, June from our Book Club lent me ‘Daughters of the Doges’ by Edward Charles. The book begins in England with Mary Tudor on the throne, at a time when there was a great deal of religious and political intrigue. The characters set off on a journey through Europe, which is undergoing the consequences of the Reformation, and set off for Padua which is located near Venice. I eagerly started off reading this book as I am fascinated with the changes in and around Europe at the time of the Renaissance (which was not just confined to Italy) and the Reformation. However, I felt that it was as if the book was written by two people; the first part was full of intrigue and adventure, however, when the characters arrive in the Veneto the pace changes. Characters act almost as if they belong in the twenty-first century, rather than the sixteenth century. Towards the end I felt that this happened more and more and the character plots conveniently fitted together too neatly. I felt that it lacked the feel of the uncertain times they were living in and it ended up to be more of a romantic novel which it hadn’t really started out to be. I do like romance but not necessarily neatly served up on a plate when I am expecting quite a clever intriguing plot.

However, I did enjoy reading about Venice and Padua and the book also contained quite a lot about the artists, Tintoretto and Titian and their artistic practices. It does make me want to visit Padua and Venice again....

Monday, 22 June 2009


A little while back I agreed to this gocco swap which was organised by Sarah of Cloth, Paper String blog. I was really excited to be taking part in this as I had missed out on previous swaps. I spent the weekend printing my 'Reflecting Winter & Spring' image onto grey card for some notelets. I thought this would be relatively straight forward as I thought it was easy to buy grey card to make cards. Not so - I did not realise how scarce grey card is and it had to be the right shade of grey to match the colours I was using. I wanted to print the icicles in the image in white which is why I decided to use grey as the background. When I finally found some when I cut and creased the grey card it did not crease properly and so I had to start again! Paperchase came to the rescue and I bought some thinner grey card which has seemed to work ok.

After the notelets were printed came more fun in wrapping them up and then sending them on their way to different corners of the globe.


Through the post last week I received a beautiful little purse I purchased from Melissa whose lovely blog is called Tiny Happy. Melissa is originally from New Zealand and has been living in Norway for a while and you can definitely see the Norwegian influence in her work.

This little purse is beautifully embroidered with a Lily of the Valley plant and I just love the little extras that she included.

A few days later I also bought this embroidered felt badge and the packaging was just as beautiful - even the stamps matched!

Melissa and her family are now on their way back to New Zealand and I wish them all a safe journey and look forward to the resumption of Melissa's blog posts when she is settled.

Wednesday, 20 May 2009

Giveaway on Sofia Barao's Blog

I have admired the artwork of Sofia Barao for a while now and she also makes jewellery, necklaces in particular one of which she is offering as a giveaway on her blog. The above photo is taken by Sofia and includes one of my favourite colours. The giveaway can be found here. Sofia also has an etsy shop where she sells her jewellery and another where she sells her beautiful artwork.

Wednesday, 6 May 2009

May Bank Holiday - Wightwick Manor

The weather was not very good this Monday and I felt like we needed some fresh air so we decided to go to Wightwick Manor, a National Trust property which is about half an hour's drive away. Although it was a little cold we went for a walk around the small but lovely garden:
There were quite a few plants and shrubs in bloom:

and bluebells in the wood made it feel really springlike:

Then we went for the obligatory cup of tea, apple juice and slices of cake in the Tea Room.

Lastly we went for a tour around the house which is full of William Morris wallpapers and fabrics (ideal for design and sewing ideas). There are also Pre-Raphaelite paintings, including one by Edward Burne- Jones. The house is quite big and we only saw the downstairs. Although we wen't there very long (a couple of hours) I felt that we had seen quite a lot, and blown some cobwebs away!


Visited my friend's last week and she had a thrush's nest in her magnolia tree. When I visited the babies were very fluffy and almost falling out of the nest! Click on the photo to see their little beady eyes. I was surprised how close to the ground they were and hoped that they would survive. Apparently they have all flown the nest now and my friend is hoping that the nest will be used again.
Last year I bought these wood anemones above from a local plant nursery and was really pleased that they came up again this year. The colour is a lovely delicate shade of blue.

Monday, 9 March 2009

Nice suprises

My daughter went to London at the weekend and telephoned me to say that she had bought me a really cool present - so I was quite excited to see what it was - and to see her of course.
It turned out to be a very sweet pincushion from Cath Kidston - unfortunately I am not allowed to keep the bag!

I also sent for a Japanese Sewing Book from Pomadour24 and it arrived in the post. Daughter wants me to help her make some of the patterns up with some Liberty fabric:

Thursday, 5 March 2009


On a research trip to London a couple of weeks ago I visited the Liberty store and actually resisted spending money in there but couldn't help but fall in love with their gorgeous display of flowers outside - I could have bought them all!

I started 'drawing' with my camera the blue lights that were outside our hotel to produce some interesting images:

This was a great view of London (unfortunately it's a cloudy day!), taken from inside the National Gallery looking out onto Trafalgar Square and down towards the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben:

Saturday, 14 February 2009

Pure Escapism!

It's been lovely when the sun is shining on these cold winter days, but not so much when it is dull and grey. June from the monthly book club I go to told me she had been reading The Glassblower of Murano and I have been itching to read it ever since. At the last book club meeting June very kindly lent me her copy to read. I fell in love with Venice when we first visited four years ago and have been enthralled with anything from the city ever since and use it as a theme in my art work. June also paid me a lovely complement as she said that the cover (with its green background and red writing) reminded her of some of my artwork that it is up in an exhibition at the moment. This book is perfect for escaping these dull winter days and makes me dream about when I can visit the city again. The story is centered around one of the skills that Venice is famous for - glassblowing and is set both in the modern day and also at the time when the techniques of glass making were well kept secrets from the rest of Europe. I couldn't put this book down with its mixture of mystery, romance, history, and wonderful descriptions of Venice. Apparently the author Marina Fiorato has another book coming out this year with an Italian theme so I shall be looking forward to that. What books do you recommend to brighten up a cold grey day?

Thursday, 5 February 2009

Lots of Snow

Here in Shropshire and the Midlands we have had quite a lot of snow recently, so much that the councils apparently are running out of salt/grit for the roads. I suspect that they have cut down on their orders for salt and grit as the last few winters have been relatively mild.

The snow brings a beautiful light, especially when the sun shines and I love the patterns that it makes all around.

I don't think I will be sitting out here for very long! I think I will leave this for the summer:

I also love children's excitement at the snow and luckily my daughter still wants to go out and sledge and play in the snow. For me I enjoy the scenery, the difference in the light and keeping warm!

Sunday, 1 February 2009

Mister Pip by Lloyd Jones

Every month I go to a book club that was set up by my avid book reading friend Darcy. I don't always have the time to read the monthly book (although I do try my best!). However, this month I excelled myself and read two books. The choice this month was totally up to us and I chose Crow Lake by Mary Lawson which was very good, and my second choice was Mister Pip by Lloyd Jones. Mister Pip was an exceptional read - a real rollercoaster of a ride with some pretty horrific scenes in it but these were essential to the story, particularly as the island Bougainville where the story is set actually exists. I won't spoil the story - just to say that the book is based on this island in the 1990's where education has been suspended due to outside influences. The consequence of this is that the only white man on the island, Mr Watts is asked to teach the children and does so by reading one of the greatest books of all time - Great Expectations by Charles Dickens. The children are engrossed in this novel which allows some of them to 'escape' the world they are living in. Lloyd Jones' writing is exceptional and he writes through the experiences of a 14 year old girl which is not an easy thing to achieve. I am very glad that I have read this book and it made me want to find out more about the island and the people living there. I imagine that this book could be (if it already isn't) on the reading lists for GCSE O Level/A Level English Literature pupils. I think that this would have been better than the options I took which were William Golding's Lord of the Flies and Joan of Arc by George Bernard Shaw. What was on your exam reading list?