Notes from a small village….

In this day of social networks, constant connectivity and 24 hour news feed it is easy enough to while away time glued to the screen of tablet or phone to the detriment of connection with the ‘real’ world.  Sometimes life reminds you that in spite of the undoubted advantages of technologies such as Skype, FaceTime, Facebook and the like for keeping ‘in touch’ with those near and far, there is nothing to beat face to face.  

As is my want on a day off from trucking, I try to walk if I can rather than getting in the car (big effort to keep the newly acquired Fitbit happy!).  It is not always easy, as anyone who lives in a rural village will tell you, the supermarket, dentist, cinema or theatre usually require pre planning and a car journey.  Today though I was meeting two girlfriends for coffee at our local farm shop cafe, definitely walkable.  I gave myself a good half hour for a walk that should take about 15 minutes.  On the village high street I first met the manageress of said cafe on her day off, and her beau.  Whilst chatting with them, the landlord of the pub stuck his head out the door to say hello and ask if I could pop in.  He and his wife just wanted to say hello as it had been a while.  Needless to say the half hour flew by and in the end I accepted a lift to my coffee date!

At the farm shop elevenses turned into lunch with my friends one of whom is leaving to live in the Middle East.  She gave us both a mug and had bought herself one too.  The three mugs were all the same, the idea being that when we drink from our mug we would be reminded of our lunch and our friendship.  A simple but beautiful plan.  

On my walk home I passed another favourite eatery, the bacon butty van in the lay by.  The owner, a long standing buddy was just closing up and mopping down but we put the world to rights as we always do!  I got my usual wave from  the boys at the local garage and popped into the little tea room to drop off some card catalogues………the chocolate cake looked very good indeed……well it would have been rude not to!  

I walked in my door and made a cup of tea feeling grateful for community and friendship.

Art in Clay

There always seems to be an air of calm at this event set in the parkland around historic Hatfield House.  It is a showcase of the ceramic art both established and up and coming.  

What always strikes me as you wander through the marquees is that it all begins as that one lump of clay.  The eminently practical stands alongside the purely decorative.  

For me, it is the opportunity to meet the makers.  Often they have a wheel or work table set up beside theirs stands for demos, or sketchbooks laid out.  They are always happy to talk to the lay person about their techniques and inspiration.  Overheard conversations between ‘potters’ about slip combinations or firing temperatures can also be fascinating.  It is a social ‘get together’ for them too in what I’d imagine could be an otherwise solitary work life.  Nowadays however, the existence of shared studio spaces goes some way to bring artists and crafts people together.

The Eider duck wanted to come home with me but I’ll need to save the pocket money first.

People watching at Art in Clay is always fascinating.


I had a lovely chat with Daphne who we discovered works in the same studio as one of my basketry tutors Polly Pollock. Small world!

Well, it had my name on it!

Fascinating to see the sad boy as I followed his creation from clay to kiln on the Singing Soul Facebook page!

These pieces has a rich ‘fabric’, costume quality to them. It turned out that Pam spent her childhood watching her father at work as a bespoke taylor.

It was great to meet Mark as earlier this year I was thrilled to be the winner in his ‘giveaway’ on Facebook and a magnificent Pelican winged it’s way to my house!  I have to admit the Pelican is not alone now…

I’m not sure if above my desk under the stairs will be the final home for these but they are safe there whilst renovations continue!

My picnic lunch cool bag that says it all!

On leaving Hatfield.

The end of a great day, a great mug of tea.

……and for your next outing?

Proms, Picnics & Planes!

Saturday saw my third visit to the Shuttleworth Collection in as many months……I think I’m a tiny wee bit hooked!  So much so that I’ve sent in my form to volunteer there!  

This time I spent the afternoon visiting the house.  Built in 1875 and designed by the architect Henry Clutton, it has an impressive collection of paintings and was once the home of the Shuttleworth family.

Having enjoyed one’s afternoon tea in the house you could climb aboard one of two vintage buses that were running a service between the mansion and the airfield and hangars.


Then it was off for a wander round the hangars for me before meeting up with friends for the flying prom.

Take note; an oil bucket with class!

‘Dorothy’ the steam engine in the background

A balmy summer evening it was not, but it takes more than a little wind and rain to dampen the spirits of promenaders at the Shuttleworth Flying Prom!  As champagne corks popped and everyone held onto their hats we we treated to an impressive flying display by the Shuttleworth pilots and visitors, and concert given by the National Symphony Orchestra

In anticipation!

I defy anyone not to be moved by the sight of a Spitfire soar to ‘Reach for the sky’ or the mighty Lysander to ‘Where Eagles dare’.  Truly breathtaking aerobatics both with an engine and without, to ‘Those magnificent men in their flying machines’.  We enjoyed a ‘Teddy bears picnic’ and a visit to Ambridge before the traditional finale of ‘Land of Hope & Glory’ and fireworks!  

When I was little my Dad used to take us the Strathallen Aircraft Museum and the Lysander was amongst my favourites.  The Airfix model ‘flew’ above my bed and a poster of it was pinned to the wall.  When the museum was in financial difficulties I put all my pocket money in their collecting tin.  Sadly my contribution didn’t prevent the eventual closure of the museum and dispersement of the collection.  It was only recently that I discovered my beloved Lysander is now homed at Shuttleworth.  A happy ending to what to me, at the time, was a tragic story.  

The mighty Lysander

The next ‘flying’ event is Wings & Wheels on Sunday 4th September

Calming cab crochet!

Having spent over five hours on the M25 this afternoon I was loosing the will to live only to have another job tagged onto my day!  But the jams had cleared and the rain stopped on the trip from Stansted to Becton   As the sun set I sat listening to the seagulls and a ‘v’ formation of geese gaggle overhead and watched BAe 146s (my old truck!) on final approach to London City.  With a flask of Assam and my crochet ‘blanket to be’ life didn’t seem so bad after all.  


On Monday I took a day off from trucking to go to the celebration for the 60th edition of the Rowan Knitting & Crochet Magazine at the Royal National Rose Society Garden of the Rose near St Albans, Hertfordshire.  

It was very much a ‘Royal’ Garden party with such yarny royalty as Debbie Abrahams, Jane Crowfoot, Jem Weston, Dee Hardwicke, Martin Storey and the guest of honour himself, Kaffe Fassett!  Sharon Brant, Brand and Business Development Manager for Mez Crafts (who are in the process of acquiring Rowan from Coats Crafts), welcomed an eclectic audience of creative devotees to the beautifully decorated marquee.  

Sat right on the front row I felt like I was in London, Paris or Milan and should be wearing dark glasses, keeping cool with a suitably ostentatious fan and sporting a distinctly nonchalant expression!  

Kaffe Fassett, arguably King of Knits, shared some very amusing stories of his early career and collaboration with Rowan.  We were treated to nostalgic look back at his designs by way of the cat walk show, including the peplum jacket featured on the front of ‘Glorious Knitting’, his first publication (and my first knitting book!).  

Then it was time to feature the designs in Rowan Magazine 60 and the two stories of Tempest and Felted Tweed Tempest.  (The photo shoot was appropriately tempestuous we were told, with hurricane force winds on the beach!).  

Here are some of the beautiful colourwork and textured pieces in the 2016 Autumn/Winter collection.  There is a particular emphasis on accessories is colourwork patterns of the larger garments in the hopes that those less experienced knitters will be encouraged to have a go! 😊💞

Book signings and a cream tea followed in the glorious surroundings of the Gardens of the Rose The day of celebration came to a close with the planting of a Rowan tree by Kaffe to mark this milestone.  

Martin Storey

Jem Weston

Dee Hardwicke 

Only one thing better than temptation, and that is giving in to it!