Speke Hall

I have a bit of a thing for Tudor buildings, well I love architecture full stop.

I fell in love with the black and white Tudor style when I lived in Cheshire. Although it was the Victorians who painted them black and white, originally the wood was left untreated, silvery grey and the daube would any colour depending on the muck that was used.

Speke Hall was built in 1530, with later extensions which were quite obvious once the guide pointed them out.

I love the patterns and the joints of the woodwork


I love the attention to detail, look under the eaves, there is  carved wood detailing. Notice the peep hole in the chimney.


The geometry is amazing on this building, although if you have been to Little Moreton Hall you will know sometimes the lines go a bit wonky. I think L M H is my favourite Tudor building.


I do love the inner courtyard, today it was a restful place from the hustle and bustle and heat of the sun.


These people must have been very rich, they have a lot of very expensive glass windows.


I didn’t know but when they travelled in these times people took their windows with them.


Can you spot the little hole, it’s in the eaves? This is above the main entrance and was used to listen to the conversations of visitors, hence the term eavesdropping.


There are 2 very old and beautiful yew trees in the courtyard, called Adam and Eve.

IMG_0664I found the interior of the house very gloomy with it’s Victorian decor but I could have sat in the courtyard shade for a while if there had been a seat to sit on, and maybe a long cool drink and my book would be good to………

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Another Place – Crosby

I have wanted to see the Anthony Gormley work ‘Another Place’ for a while. Having done the day tripper thing in Liverpool during the day we decided to visit Crosby early evening. This was a good call as it was the hottest day of the year, and a bank holiday, so the beach would have been crowded earlier on.


There are 100 life size cast iron statues all looking out to sea. Some were buried in the sand, others were up to their necks in water. I liked the way our shadows became a part of the installation.


I was a good time to go as the sunlight played on the sea but it would be great to see them at sunset.

IMG_0770I liked seeing silhouettes of real people alongside the statues.

IMG_0775I can’t  decide if the wind turbines add or take away something

IMG_0780It was the perfect way to wind down after the hustle and bustle of Liverpool


A peacful end to a wonderful day.


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A Day Tripper in Liverpool

We had a trip to Liverpool over the bank holiday weekend, although I was a bit too young to be a great beatles fan at the time, you can’t go to Liverpool without doing a beatles tour. We drove past John Lennon’s house and down Penny Lane, and past the Sergeant Pepper roundabout.
.Liverpool has some amazing architecture, I love seeing old and new together. This is the White Star Line offices (now a hotel), I love the reflections in the new building
IMG_0710One of my favourite areas on such a hot day was the Albert dock
IMG_0688You can see the very impressive Liver building in this shot. I have never been to Liverpool before but I knew of this building from watching the Liver Birds on TV in the 1970’s, I can hear the tune now.
IMG_0697IMG_0709Liverpool gets it’s name from a small natural harbour which was situated between the Hilton building and the one on the left, which is also curved. The land in front is reclaimed and it’s where the river Mersey would have been in 1190. Luierpul means muddy pool.

IMG_0704The Bluecoat School is the oldest building in Liverpool, it was built to educate poor boys but sadly this was financed from slavery.

Eleanor Rigby sculpted by Tommy Steele and sold to Liverpool council for half a sixpence.

.I got quite excited when we arrived at the Cavern club, it is the most famous club in the world.


.The wall of fame bears the names of acts that have performed at the club.



As you would expect on a bank holiday afternoon the club was heaving, we didn’t stay long. After a swift half to quench our thirst it was time to set off on our next adventure to Crosby, more about that later!


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Design Sketchbook Pages – Geology

I am trying to develop a rhythm with doing my sketchbook pages, and I thought blogging would help me establish my practice on a regular basis. I’m not sure how regular my regular will be but time will tell. For now it’s probably going to be monthly with the possibility of an extra post now and then if I develop something into a finished piece that I might want to share to chart my progress if you like.

The theme my sketchbook group chose for April was Geology, which is just up my street as we have loads of geology books and I have hundreds of photos of rocks from my walks.

Things do have a habit of not going quite as planned and I have found myself with very little spare time this month so I decided to work on my pages quickly, with a lot of line drawing using different tools on pre-coloured pages.



I like using frames to help find areas that I particularly like


More drawing with some added embellishment

I liked the idea of doing these very quick drawings


P1500008I can see the potential for stitched work or ceramics


P1500020I can’t wait to take the screen printing course so I can print my designs on textiles and then stitch.

P1500021I was taking a risk with tearing here so I could replicate fault lines, sometimes this works well but maybe not in this case.

P1500025Once I put the frames on I had a totally different outlook, I can see how I could develop these further.



P1500027I know I will return to this theme when I have more time, there’s so much more to explore.

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Art Elements April Theme Challenge – Horses

Firstly I hope I’m doing this right, it’s the first time I have joined in an Art Elements theme challenge but I have wanted to do so for some time, but things seem to get in the way.

Back to the challenge and the theme horses, I don’t think I could draw a horse to save my life! I had thoughts of doing something in ceramics with cave painting style horses, then I thought about Swedish Dala horses which I thought I would be able to draw. Dala horses have a long history, the first reference to selling them can be traced back to the 1600’s, they originated in the Dalecarlian area of Sweden where they would be carved from wood in the winter by the woodsman to sell in the summer.

IMG_0638I’ve made the decision not to use tea bags whenever possible so my teapot has started to see the light of day once more. We don’t drink much tea in this house but we like the ritual of an afternoon cuppa these days, and we have come to realise that we need a new fine mesh tea strainer and a tea cosy.

So I decided (as I have my sewing machine out) to make a tea cosy with a Dala horse on it for the challenge. I chose a lightweight denim and red ric rac trimming, I already had some wadding in my stash.
Next I measured up my teapot and added seam allowance taking into consideration the wadding would take up room too, then I cut out my pieces making the inside lining and outside all in one piece of fabric, which made things much easier and quicker to make.
IMG_0639The horse was cut out of calico and attached using bondaweb, ( I have only just discoverd this wonderful stuff ) Then I zig zagged the edges.
I was going to use machine embroidery for the decoration but as the sun was shining I spent the afternoon in the garden hand stitching which was very relaxing and enjoyable.

IMG_0640Then I stitched on the ric rac and quilted the wadding to the inside fabric.

IMG_0641I made a little tab for the top of the cosy, then stitched it all together around the edges leaving a gap in the inner lining at the top to turn the cosy right side out. The lining part was stitched at the top to close it then pushed up inside the outer fabric and stitched into place.

I then spent a few days eagerly waiting for the flower buttons to arrive to finish the whole thing off and while I waited I managed to squeeze out a coffee pot cosy from the left over fabric, it just fits.
P1490998I gave the tea cosy a gentle press then took a deep breath and tried it on my teapot, and it fit!

Art Elements Horse Challenge

At least my tea won’t go cold now.

If you would like to see what everyone else has made for the horse theme then have a look at the participant’s blogs here:

Guest participants:










AE Team members:










And I suggest you have a look at Art Elements Blog too. Thanks to the AE team for hosting the blog hop, now I’m off to read about everyone’s makes.


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A Metamorphosis – Giving myself a treat!

I decided as it’s my 60th year to give myself a special treat, I have a bracelet of great sentimental value which I was given Christmas 1973.

This was a very memorable Christmas, Slade were number one with Merry Christmas, how could anyone forget.

I can see myself in my C&A dress standing by the fireplace with the smell of turkey wafting through the house, looking at my bracelet and feeling very happy indeed. I was so pleased with the bracelet because when Mam took me to the jewellers to pick my present I could have the bracelet, or a watch on a chain. I chose the watch because I can’t wear wrist watches, they go crazy, it was a practical choice. Then on Christmas morning there was a small package, when I opened it I cried because Mam had bought me the bracelet as well.

I wore it a lot, the catch broke and was replaced twice, then it got put in a drawer never to be seen for many years, then one day I came across it and had an idea.

I first came across Anna McDade’s work when I saw her dragonfly cuff in a jewellers shop in Keswick, and later I got to know Anna in person. I thought I would ask Anna if she could melt down my bracelet and make me a cuff to match the other pieces of her jewellery  which I wear all the time, my hare pendant and matching hare earrings

Today the postman brought me small package, my cuff is so beautiful and I will wear it  always knowing it is a metamorphosis of my Mam’s silver bracelet, something to treasure forever.
.Thank you Anna 🙂

If you aren’t familiar with Anna’s beautiful work here’s some links:

Website – Anna McDade

Etsy shop

Folksy shop




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A bit of culture in Birmingham.

I was in Birmingham last week, catching up with friends and enjoying some culture which is somewhat lacking in the small northern village I call home.

Finally I got to go to the Museum of the Jewellery Quarter which is something I have wanted to do for a while. Everything is exactly as it was in 1981 when the owners of Smith and Pepper closed their doors.
20180410_144836Although the workshop closed in 1981 not a lot had changed over the years, I loved seeing the work benches and all the tools, some were very familiar but I didn’t know about the blowpipes used to blow air into the torch flame to get it hot. 20180410_14540920180410_150525After an early evening pub meal we headed for the Symphony Hall to see Jethro Tull. The music was brilliant but Ian’s voice wasn’t what it used to be and much of the time you just couldn’t hear him. Still, at 70 what a performance, playing the flute standing on one leg.

The following day we went to Coughton Court, a National Trust property.
IMG_0448Then back into Birmingham to see Brighton Rock, (written by Graham Greene) at Birmingham Repertory. I remember the old black and white version with a young Richard Attenborough playing the very troubled Pinky. This performance had all the tension I remember from the film.

We managed a walking day in the Lickey hills even though the weather wasn’t very good.  I called them the ‘sticky hills’ as it was very muddy, and as I forgot my walking boots I walked 8 miles in trainers with very wet feet. It was quite misty so the views weren’t so good but we did see a woodpecker and a Jay. IMG_0466IMG_0473We were lucky enough to see an urban fox in our friend’s street when walking home from the pub, the perfect end to the day.



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Taking it slow!

I have spent the past week with my Dad so I haven’t been making much, but if you are a craftaholic you will know it’s hard to not be ‘doing’ something.

Spending the week with my Dad has given me time to relax in terms of the ‘creative snowball effect’ and clear my head, I did however manage to fit in some making without realising it.

My Dad is 89, he recently found an interest in cooking. He wanted to learn how to make scones, baking is always very relaxing don’t you think? As he has a MB cookbook we made the scones from her book, he said they weren’t as good as the ones I usually make to my own recipe, talk about a compliment!

While we have been sitting chatting I’ve had the knitting needles out and I managed to complete the sleeves for my next jumper.
.I also had a bit of sketchbook time doing some new pages based on a walk and also browsing through said contents to order some threads for a project. I know this is forward planning, and not living in the moment but it was immediate and my ‘to do list’ didn’t snowball.

I started an online machine embroidery course with Dionne Swift so I had some creative videos to watch and I found time now and then to make a sample or two.
textile samples I did a bit of armchair bird watching, it’s surprising what you can see if you take the time to look out of the window. I spotted a barn owl a couple of times as well as a kestrel and buzzards, then there were my garden friends who visit the feeders daily, as well as the elusive great spotted woodpecker.

You know spring has arrived when the bullfinches turn up to eat the buds off your trees.
There was a beautiful pair of goldfinches too
I managed to meditate every day, I get a lot out of 10 minutes, not only is it calming, but it also seems to boost the creative process. I suppose it’s a bit like going to the gym for a work out, the body needs a rest in order to recover and make you stronger. I think meditation does the same for the creative mind.

I’m about to try applique and free motion sewing so let’s hope my creative muscles are up for it. FME is rather like patting your head and rubbing your stomach so I need all the help I can get, and lots and lots of practice. Dionne is an excellent teacher and her courses are very well structured, this is my third, I already have the next one planned. 😊

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Solway Inspiration.

I’ve had a trip to the coast looking for inspiration. The light was just gorgeous, Scotland looks so close doesn’t it? I’m loving these colours, just perfect for paint and stitch.IMG_0277Charles Dickens wasn’t very complimentary when he wrote about Allonby, but it’s really beautiful in the sunshine.

I love the play of light on the wet ripples, shining like silver ribbons
IMG_0314The little cottages reminded me of a John Blockley painting in one of my much loved watercolour books.


I feel really inspired by these photo’s, and I have a plan to use some of the treasure that I picked up from the beach in some textile work soon.IMG_0340

I’m about to get my sketching stuff out and put some of my ideas down on paper. I can still hear the curlew’s call, so I must make a note of that before I forget.

I’m feeling very excited as I start another textile course with Dionne Swift on Monday, this time it’s machine embroidery, I have wanted to get to grips with free motion embroidery for a looong time.

Enjoy your Easter weekend whatever you are doing 🙂


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New Stoneware Bowls

It’s been a long winter this year, feels like I have been stuck inside for months. But I have been planning new work and dreaming of holidays by the sea.

I should also confess to drinking wine by the log fire and cooking up some heart warming meals, well it’s all in the name of hygge and staying warm and cosy. There’s nothing like a homemade pie when the weather is dreek outside, so it seemed pie dishes were inevitable.


These are my individual ‘Pudding and Pie’ dishes, although they could be used in a multitude of ways.pudding and pie dishes

My thoughts of being at the seaside seems quite evident in some of my new work.

These bowls have a lovely turquoise glaze, the one on the right , turquoise and white, evokes memories of sunny days on the beaches of the Isle of Lewis and the crystal clear turquoise water and pale sandy beaches.

stoneware bowls

These bowls reflect the colours of the Norfolk coast, remember my seal trip at Blakeney?  I want to design this range so that each bowl will have a slightly different look, I love to see the contrast of glaze and the warm speckled textures of the clay, each glaze/ bowl is a little different but they all coordinate beautifully.

Kiln Fired Art ceramics

Most importantly these bowls have glazes suitable for tableware and they are high fired so they can go in the microwave and dishwasher.

Once the weather warms up I shall be throwing some more to add to my shop, I’m trying to think of a name for the range, ‘Seaside’ seems to be the obvious choice. What do you think of it?

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