Sunday, 30 August 2015

Nothing to show for it!

Old Ada Hendriks (my maternal grandmother),
she of the wise saw and adage for every occasion, had
two questions in particular which were guaranteed to
drive me to near distraction.

Oh to be in England now that summer's here.

This wet, miserable bank holiday weekend somehow put
me in mind of her because I have accomplished
absolutely nothing of any worth whatsoever.

Here comes Question One.  I can still see the heavily
corseted old Victorian matron now in my mind's eye saying,
"You've just had three days off my girl and what have you
got to show for it?"
Nada granny, zilch, rien, zero, diddley squat.
I have accomplished nothing!

Whatever happened to sharing?

I really dislike bank holidays.  We're expected to do things,
enjoy stuff and generally put ourselves about a bit.
Well I've tried all that all to no avail, I really have.

I know the feeling.

I've been to a combined garden and dog show with my
lovelly Russian friend Gala and dog Max only to find that
the dog show wasn't on until the next day and the garden
show was farce. (That should have been "a farce"
I think I'm turning into an honorary Russian.)  Three pot
plants and a burger van with no customers.
I exagerate slightly but you get my drift.

Shall we call it a draw?

Rain stopped play both at the Acle cricket club and, more
importantly, at the allotments so no beans to freeze
as it's too wet for picking and too soggy to plant out my
parsley seedlings, so I was stuffed there too.

A girl after my own heart.

And try as I might inspiration for a new design simply wouldn't
come to me.  So as the rain lashed against the windows and
caused tumult on my pond I picked up my sewing only to find
that it was much too dark to see and the bulb had gone in
the lamp behind my chair.  Bugger, back to the boxed sets and
a square or five of bitter Belgian chocolate by way of recompense.

At least the Morris men copped it too.

Which bring me rather neatly on to the second of Ada's
irritating questions.  "Come on girl, speak up." (prod with
bamboo walking cane).  "What have you got to say for yourself?"

Donkey ride anyone?

I know what I was usually thinking at that point but I'll leave you to
fill in the blanks lest a ghostly voice should tell me to go
immediately to the bathroom and wash out my mouth with soap
and water.  No way Granny, that would probably constitute
child abuse these days!

A Long Dog special

For those of you who didn't manage to spot it on
Facebook here is a novel new Long Dog design
aimed exclusively at the Russian and Chinese
pirate market.

It measures 247 x 133 stitches
and is called Swivel on This!

Please don't attempt to buy it as I'm sure someone
out there will have the brass faced cheek
to offer it as a download on one
of their tacky little sites.

Let's hope they understand the message.

Friday, 28 August 2015

The Broderers' Guild at Norwich Cathedral

In a recent post about Norwich Cathedral I promised to
expand further about an exhibition of embroidered church
vestments and the Broderers' Guild who look after them.

Established in 1997 the Guild is responsible for the upkeep and
repair of all ecclesiastical textiles, as well as designing and
making new items such as chasubles, stoles and frontals
They're all volunteers and are always looking for new members
to join their team.

They also offer workshop tours on which it's possible to go
behind the scenes and gain insight into the Guild's work with
textiles.  Tours currently cost £4 per person and early
booking is advisable due to limited space.  Then round
off the afternoon with tea and cakes in the Refectory.
What's not to like about that.

A real labour of love

When I met the ladies they were working on a conservation
piece which they had practically rebuilt from scratch.
Nearly all the mediaeval bugle beads had fallen off and needed
replacing and the actual fabric itself needed urgent repair and
attention too.

This whole piece was restored bead by bloody bead!

Apparently the ancient beads were so thin that not even the
finest of modern beading needles could be used and each one
had to be threaded by hand onto specially prepared
waxed thread.  And you thought cross stitch was fiddly?

But that's not the end of the story.  Once all the beads
are firmly secured in place, rather like thatching a roof,
a minutely thin layer of netting is stitched in place over the top
to catch any beads should they fall off again
sometime in the year 2500+.

To book a tour or for further information about volunteering
opportunities please contact Helen Jenkins on 01603 218326.

Or, alternatively, email
for any questions or queries you may want to put to them.
And why not visit the website while you're at it:

Monday, 24 August 2015

A long dog day in heaven

Stop me if I've mentioned this before
but I do have the very softest of spots in the
whole of soft spot land for running dogs
large and small so it will come as no surprise
when you hear that I've just been surrounded
by hundreds of the exquisite creatures and feel
like I may have died and gone straight to heaven
in the process.

I've been nibbled by whippet pups who wouldn't sit
still to have their photo taken.

I've been in the company of lurcher men who
always bring a bottle just in case.

I've seen a Bedlington cross too beautiful for words.

I've been delighted to see young families out
with their dogs.

I've thought very seriously about stealing a van
just for what's in the back of it.

I've seen more saluki crosses than you could
shake a stick at.

I've seen dogs who like to drive .....

..... and others who prefer the back seats.

There's been the rough .......

..... and the smooth,

and just about everything else in between.

They seem to have picked up a good sniff.
I think I'll tag along and see where it goes.
Lure coursing at Raveningham,
it's the only place to be.

Saturday, 22 August 2015

Say it with flowers: The Carnation

No self-respecting sampler should be without a carnation
or three tucked away in it's borders or standing tall in some
buxom vase in pride of place.

What is interesting is that it's name is so completely different
in all the major European languages.  Very often there
would be similarities making it easy to guess what flower
someone was talking about, but not so in the case
of the magnificent carnation.

Oeillet - French
Anjer - Dutch
Nelke - German
Garofano - Italian
Clavel - Spanish

They make wonderful squirrel perches.

and in Russia it sounds like something you should
shout loudly before necking a vodka shot - gvozdika!

This symbolic flower is associated with the bonds of affection;
health and energy; fascination and love.  Also a pinkish flesh
tint once used widely in oil paintings of buxom nudes.

The big ones will even take the weight of a stag!

It's the birth flower for the month of January,
the first wedding anniversary flower (new husbands
please take note) and apparently the state flower
of Ohio.  I wonder who decides these things.
Let's shout bagsey on the dog rose for Long Dog!

Colour also plays a part in the symbolism of the carnation.
White is for pure love (baby samplers), red for deep love
(wedding samplers) and purple for capriciousness (quick
samplers that use up spare threads),

Most significant though are the pink carnations which were
superstitiously believed to have first appeared on earth
formed from the tears of the Virgin Mary on her
pathway to Calvary and are symbolic of a mother's
undying love.

It's also the trade name for a delicious brand of evaporated
milk in the UK, as all baby boomers will know, which goes
particularly well with tinned pineapple chunks for
Sunday afters.

Wednesday, 19 August 2015

The plot thickens .....

This weekend just gone was exceptionally busy by
my standards because not only was it the allotment open
day but it also marked the start of my tenancy of
a second piece of land - Plot 19.

Numerologically I'm very happy with that because when
you add the number 6 of my original plot to the number 19
and then reduce the figures down this comes out at 7.
And 7 is my birth number and the magic number too
so how can I possibly fail to grow even more wonderful 
things over the coming years and seasons?

Mine, all mine!

Plot 19 is pretty big (5m x 20m) and it's a bit of a walk on
the wild side but I'm sure I shall soon have it licked into
shape provided that I don't go at it like a bull in a china
shop and knacker myself in the process.

What do you fancy a slice of?

The open day was wonderful, the sun was out, the crowds
were out too and, more importantly, so were their purses
and we raised a record amount through the sale of produce,
jams, home-made cakes and the inevitable cups of rosie.

Getting ready for the locusts to arrive.
My Russian friend about to start her juggling act.
A very "British" affair

Sunday, 16 August 2015


The fine City of Norwich has always been associated with dragons
since the Middle Ages.  It has a Dragon Hall, two
Dragon Churches - St George Tombland and Colegate -
a Dragon Festival and a dragon boat race.
And this year it has it's very own Dragon Trail.

Lord Nelson and his dragon in Cathedral Close

The 2015 Norwich interactive arts sculpture trail brings
84 large dragon sculptures (5ft high/1.6m) and 120 school
dragons to the City.  We've already had Gorillas and
Elephants  These mythical creatures are made from
glass-fibre and are the creation of Wild in Art.

The sun catching dragon of Tombland

Artists and community groups submitted designs for the
painted dragons on a number of themes including
Norwich, Norfolk, nature and cult.  There are also seven
special heritage dragons with associated activities ranging
from calligraphy to puppetry.

His magnificence the John Lewis dragon

To see them all together you will need to visit The Forum
between 27-30 September before they are auctioned in aid
of a Norfolk based charity who support vulnerable childred
and familis across East Anglia.

Fabric, button-down scales

My favourite dragon of all has to be the one sponsored by
the haberdashery department of John Lewis.
They've really pushed the boat out and he sits amidst
the knitting wool, quilt fabrics and threads completely covered
in buttons, sparkles, patchwork and knitting.
He's even got a zipper down his back between his wings.

Fantasy feathered wings

So don't just sit there.  Download a trail map and
let's go dragon spotting. 

Someone's even knitted him some leg warmers ......