The Cottage Orné Quilt

The Cottage Orné Quilt
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Sunday, 29 July 2012

Little squares in Welsh Blankets

Welsh blankets are "in" at the moment and this spectacular one has just been sold by Jen Jones.

At first glance I thought it was a quilt,  which is probably why I am drawn to this pattern of blanket.  I first saw one at the cottage of my friends the Havards and then again the Prince of Wales has one in his Welsh farm house and Jen of course has them in her collection.

Here are some images -

Christine and Philip have chosen to decorate their sofa.
In the reception area of the farm house of the Prince of Wales.  He has another on a table covering the TV - he hates seeing TV sets apparently!
The tress decorating Westminster Abbey at the Royal Wedding are now planted in front of the farmstead.
Decorating the Study Room at the Jen Jones Quilt Centre

When I first saw these blankets I was inspired to make a quilt with little nine patch black and white squares and made quite a few before running out of steam.  I then had a rethink and put them together in a slightly different way.  At the moment this little quilt is at the quilting stage and so is not very photogenic.  When I finish it, soon I hope, I will show you!

Sunday, 22 July 2012

Mary Keen's Garden

Yesterday was a warm and sunny day, just right for visiting gardens and one of my  favourite gardens happened to have an open day in aid of charity.  It is in a magical valley in the Cotswolds in the tiny village of  Dundisbourne Rouse not far from Cirencester.

This is the Old Rectory- it doesn't lean it's my photography!
Lady Mary Keen is a garden guru of long standing. She has written many books, one of which describes how she designed this particular garden after buying the house and clearing the site.

It couldn't have been an easy process because the garden slopes quite steeply in places but it has the most wonderful atmosphere and though it looks artless, it has strongly designed bones supporting the abundant colourful planting.

St Michael's Church which dates from 11th or early 12th century, adjoins the garden of the Rectory
Inside the little School  House which once belonged to the Church.  This is now a  Garden Room with facilities for garden visitors to make a cup of tea and enjoy reading about the garden - it is a delight!
A view of the former School House across the Olympic Flower Meadow
This wild flower meadow was planted with a mix of Sarah Raven's flower meadow seeds which
are planted at the Olympic Park.
Another view of the School House

You can see from the green lushness in these pictures that we have had a tremendous amount of rain but at last the sun is shining so hopefully there will be more flowering and less foliage.

Do hope that these pictures give you a flavour of a wonderful English garden.  I came away inspired and replete with scones and cream served at the lovely old kitchen table facing a very interesting china filled dresser.  I would have loved to have taken a picture but I felt that it would have been an invasion of privacy.

Sunday, 15 July 2012

EB Collectors

Ee by gum - trouble at mill - er I mean pottery!

The Emma Bridgewater Collectors' Open Days last Thursday, Friday and Saturday didn't meet with whole hearted praise.  There are lots of complaints on Facebook about over pricing, pushing, poor catering, lack of organisation and the non appearance of Emma herself, among other things.

I live it vicariously by enjoying the pictures posted online and perhaps that's the best way?

Here are some images -

They just can't wait to check things out!
Shall I buy it? I wonder if she did?
Lovely jug but not sure about the lettering?
Emma was there, maybe she wasn't recognised because of the specs!  Check out the spotted Aga!

Matthew and Emma picked up honorary degrees on Friday for their work supporting the potteries - so they had a good week!

Apologies to those not interested in EB pottery but I will talk about quilting eventually and show you more houses and gardens as promised.

Thursday, 12 July 2012

Visiting East Anglia

I have just returned from a week in Suffolk, occasionally straying into Essex and Norfolk.

We rented a former coach house, which was wonderfully comfortable and well equipped, right in the centre of  Lavenham, a very beautiful and historic village full of  medieval buildings.

This house was just opposite our temporary home -

Doesn't it look like a fairytale house? Not a straight line to be seen!

Unlike the rest of the UK we had fine weather with no rain during the day, just at night.  Perfect for us and the gardens! Our biggest problem was dodging the Olympic Torch and all the traffic chaos surrounding its progress, but we managed!

Here are images of just some of the lovely houses and gardens we visited -

This is the view of the village of Kersey taken from the gate of the Church which is set on a hill overlooking the valley.   Sorry we visited on bin day, they and the cars do spoil the picture!
The River House, one of the grandest houses in Kersey, built in 1490 and set beside the ford which divides the main street.  There's no avoiding it!

The main door of River House can't be used much?
This is Otley Hall, a wonderful moated medieval house with some views of its garden -

My very favourite garden at Paycocks, a National Trust property in Coggershall, Essex.  This garden was designed and is maintained entirely by volunteers who spend one day a week tending it.  I loved it!

I have more - watch this space!

Saturday, 7 July 2012

Wild in Lyme

When I visited South Somerset two weeks ago, we did stray over the border into Dorset.  The weather on the Saturday was rather wild so we decided to go and experience this wildness beside the sea at Lyme Regis.

I am sure you remember this iconic poster of Meryl Streep?

It was filmed in Lyme as the story was set there and though the little town has been in books before (Jane Austen's Persuasion springs first to mind) it and its famous Cobb was put firmly on the world map.

The Cobb was built in the 14th century.  It is a breakwater built to protect the harbour and little bay and it certainly does its work.  Here are a few images -

This is Lyme Regis in good weather -

You can see clearly how The Cobb snakes around the beach and harbour protecting it from the sea's power.

This is what it was like on the day we visited -

Needless to say we didn't hang about on the Cobb like Meryl, but goodness me it was thrilling!

If you want to see what it's like NOW - here is a link to the live web cam?

Sunday, 1 July 2012

Elizabeth Stuart known as The Winter Queen

In honour of the Jubilee, BBC Woman's Hour has been doing a series on Queens of England, but this time they diverted slightly to include Princess Elizabeth, the daughter of James I.

Woman's Hour made the point that as the eldest child, if the proposed new law on Royal inheritance is passed allowing daughters equal status with sons, she would have inheritated the throne and British history would have been very different.  No Civil War, no beheading of Charles I and all the changes thereafter!

She was by all accounts considered beautiful, but this lovely portrait by Marcus Gheeraerts is intriguing because it depicts her in Elizabethan rather than Stuart costume.

This is a portrait of her mother Anne of Denmark by the same artist -

Apparently James I wanted to perpetuate the iconic status of his predessor Elizabeth I, so he insisted that his wife be painted wearing dresses in the same style as Elizabeth and it rather looks that his daughter had to too!

Here's an earlier portrait - again very Elizabethan!

and a  later one in widow's weeds but very much Stuart fashion -

Well what happened to Princess Elizabeth?

When she was 17 she was married to the then Elector of the Palatinate in Germany. It was a genuine love match apparently and they had 13 children.  Her husband was offered the throne of Bohemia which he accepted and they went to live in Prague.  It didn't work out and they only spend the winter there - hence the "Winter Queen" tag.  They couldn't return home to Germany so were exiled to The Hague.  After her husband died and her brother Charles II became King, she returned to London for a visit where she died aged  65 and was buried with her parents in Westminster Abbey.

Though she didn't inherit the throne in her own right, when the other Stuart monarchs had no legitimate heirs, it was her grandson, the German, Elector of Hanover who became King George I.   A result for her I think!

There's a house related postscipt!  She had a loyal and rich admirer, William, first Earl of Craven, who when she returned here from Holland, knowing her love of hunting and her "longing to live in quiet" decided to build her a hunting lodge in the latest Dutch style.

Ashdown House

 It is now known as "England's most romantic house" and is in the care of the National Trust.  Follow the link here.

Sadly this story doesn't have a happy ending as Elizabeth died before seeing the house.

I'm sure there's a film script here somewhere, but perhaps change the ending?