Saturday, 29 May 2010

Giveaway draw

Just thought I'd start this post with a photo of my Nan (far right) with her sister and a friend. The photo was taken around 1920 and I just wish I had a bathing cap like one of those!


The giveaway draw date has arrived and I have to say, with just fourteen names to go in the hat, you were all in with a jolly good chance of being drawn.

We used a genuine vintage top hat (modelled here by dear daughter) which I purchased from an antiques fair at Alexandra Palace about thirty years ago. This hat has been on stage as the hat of the Artful Dodger and I think I'm right in saying has also been part of a vampire costume.

I don't know how old the hat is, but it came from Jermyn Street which runs behind Fortnum and Mason in Piccadilly, London and is small enough to have belonged to a child of about ten.

Anyway, dear daughter had the honour of picking out a name from the hat (she did confess to feeling a bit nervous at the responsibility).

And the winner is..........

Congratulations Ted and Bunny! The V&A souvenirs will be winging their way to you asap if you would be so kind as to email your address.


Andi xx

Friday, 21 May 2010

QUILTS 1700-2010 and GIVEAWAY

Daughter is coming home today after a week away with the school. This has been her very first trip away without the family and I'm curious to know how she got on. Certainly, I didn't even get a goodbye. She saw her friends and was off, got on the coach and that was it, apart from a wave as the coach set off.

The house has felt very strange without her presence. She has a very sunny personality and I'm looking forward to having her home. That being said, I have had a very free week. As son is on study leave I have had no school run. HALLELUJAH! That has NOT been missed, I can tell you.

So on Wednesday I took myself up to London for the day. First stop was the V&A museum for the quilt exhibition. What a fabulous selection of quilts dating from 1700s. What little history was known about each quilt (if anything) was fascinating. From times gone by when women were not allowed to express themselves through art, music, writing (whilst acknowledging the handful of female writers who did make it through), it was quite moving to see the thought, design and dedication that had gone into each and every quilt.

Detail of a coverlet commemorating Wellington.
Worked by Elisabeth Chapman and dated 1829

There was a quilt named 'The Rajah' which had been worked by British female convicts during their transportation to Australia in 1841 on HMS Rajah. The quilt was worked by the women to voice their appreciation for all the support given by Elizabeth Fry and The British Ladies' Society for Promoting the Reformation of Female Prisoners, who donated sewing supplies to women in prison and later, convict ships.

Another story told how destitute women who found themselves 'with child' and unmarried, would sew a little motif on a small square of fabric, cut it in half and pin one half to their baby's clothing or shawl before leaving the baby with a foundlings hospital. The mother would keep the other half of the fabric in the hope that in happier/easier times they might meet up with their child again and would be able to recognise each other through the matching fabric. Unfortunately, the nurses, believing the women would not want their 'disgraced' past to catch up with them, disposed of the squares attached to the babies. Heartbreaking.

Patchwork with Garden of Eden
Worked by Ann West and dated 1820

The exhibition is on until 4th July 2010 and well worth a visit for anyone interested in quilting.

Wednesday was such a lovely day that I sat and had lunch by the paddling pond in the centre of the V&A grounds. The museum was founded with some of the proceeds from the Great Exhibition in 1851. It is a magnificent piece of Victorian architecture, just absolutely beautiful. Can you imagine any architect today incorporating even one example of this decoration? What a shame we seem to have lost romance and artistic flair to our buildings' designs today.

After lunch I took a short walk to Harrods to buy some (authentic) Japanese green tea which I grew to like during my time working for a Japanese company back in the 70s. The green tea sold on the supermarket shelves tastes nothing like the authentic stuff. While I was at the tea counter I noticed a canister marked 'Monkey Picked Oolong'. The assistant told me she didn't think monkeys picked it anymore, but it begs the question, 'Why Monkey Picked?' Does monkey essence add to the flavour?

A LONG stroll to the King's Road and I encountered these chaps:

These elephants are scattered across London in order to raise awareness of the plight of the Asian elephant which is on the edge of extinction. The elephants can be 'adopted' by sponsoring them. (I wonder if at the end of this particular campaign the sponsors will be allowed to keep their elephant? Just the thing for my garden!) You can see a few more elephants photographed by Wend over at Ticking Stripes

Then, because there was no school run to rush home for (have I mentioned 'Hallelujah'?) I met M for an early dinner and then on to see The Real Thing by Tom Stoppard at The Old Vic (another beautiful piece of architecture):

This was M's theatre choice and unfortunately, I don't seem to get on with Stoppard's work. Oh sure, I go with an open mind, and there were some funny lines/moments, but Tom and I are obviously travelling on different escalators and I just don't 'get it'.


Now we come to my very first giveaway. It's only a token, just to let you know that I was thinking of you all as I walked around the quilt exhibition, knowing some of you would love to attend but live too far away.

I have brought home two fat quarters of Limited Edition printed cotton which has been exclusively created for the V&A museum, and a V&A thimble. Humble offerings I know, but something I believe any one of you will be able to use with beautiful results.

All you have to do is leave a comment on this post and your name will be put into the hat (it would be nice if you could spread the word, too). One name will be drawn out of the hat by dear daughter on Saturday 29th May 2010.

And for all those who quilt, you may be interested in joining Maria's quilting bee over at Me and Ma's.


Andi xx

Saturday, 1 May 2010

Catching Up

Happy May Day everyone. Did anyone wash their hair in the May morning dew today? No, neither did I but I can tell you - it works.

Twenty-seven years ago I walked around the grounds of Pendley Manor in Tring, Hertfordshire in the early hours of the morning of May 1st (I remember because I walked with M, who was my new boyfriend at the time). We got soaked because it was raining - you know, that fine misty rain that fools you into thinking you're not really getting wet. In the weeks that followed I had so many compliments about my hair. Never had it looked so good. I put it down to the May day dew. Or perhaps it was love, who knows?


A few weeks ago I won my very first giveaway prize:

Donna at Brynwood Needleworks drew my name out of the hat. My prize was waiting for me when I returned from my extended holiday. An Alice in Wonderland bookmark.

Thank you so much, Donna. I'm thrilled.

You may remember that I also received this award from Funkymonkey and Vintage at the Corner House:

I was to list five things I enjoy doing. So, rather belatedly, here they are:


I love it. I feel so happy when I'm walking around talking to the stall holders, picking up a bargain. As a child I was always searching for treasure. I guess this is the adult version. I'm thrilled the season has started again, but it looks like being a washout this weekend. Sigh.


Oh the hours I've spent doing this. It's one of my favourite occupations and it's a must for writing fiction. Many of my stories have evolved because of my musings of 'What if...?'. And of course, it's a world only you control - anything can happen.


Even a year ago this would not have appeared on my list. For some reason, an interest in gardening has just exploded within me. Right now I'm so excited to find the garden changing daily with things growing, opening, appearing. We are fortunate to have quite a large garden but it's a bit boring. Just a lawn and a narrow bed running in a straight line either side. A few apple trees, a few shrubs and that's it. Well, things are about to change! I have such plans and a lot of enthusiasm. Just hope my back holds out!


Going to it and taking part in it. When I walk into my community theatre I feel so at home. I love being involved in a play, watching it develop along with all the characters. The absolute fear before curtain up and the elation after. Wonderful. Going to the theatre is one of the few things M and I share an interest in. In fact we met because of the theatre. Would you like to hear the story?

Once upon a time my theatre group was putting on a review called 'Rags to Riches'. I was singing Diamonds Are A Girl's Best Friend. Now, I thought I knew where the audience might laugh and was prepared for it. Unfortunately, when a lone, loud laugh (M's) exploded from the audience at a place in the song I hadn't expected a laugh, I'm afraid it threw me (had my wig slipped? Had my robe come undone?) and I forgot the next line of the song. After the show M went backstage wanting to know 'Who was that fantastic blond?' and I went backstage saying 'Who was that *%@!** @*$#!! who put me off my song?'

We've been in love ever since!


I began my research many years ago when it involved taking time off work to go to St. Catherine's House in London and spend the day heaving huge ledgers off the shelves and fighting for a space on the tables on which to put them. It is SOOOO much easier now that many records are on the Internet and I have found out so much more than I ever could because of it. I am interested in everyone, but mostly my female line. There's something about the womb-to-womb trail that intrigues me. I have a set of Russian dolls, one for each woman starting with the smallest which is my daughter. It helps her to memorise the women we came from. There are nine dolls. I need to go back just one more generation to complete the set.


Andi xx