Friday 23 August 2013

A Fine Romance by Susan Branch

Greetings friends. This week I've been reading 'A Fine Romance' by Susan Branch. My American friends will of course be well acquainted with Susan's many books which are all beautifully hand written and illustrated in her own joyously inimitable style.

As soon as I jumped into the pages of a 'A Fine Romance' I was whisked away with Susan and her husband Joe on the trip they made in 2012 across the Atlantic on board the magnificent liner Queen Mary 2. Once in England I met their friends, stayed with them in some wonderful cottages and ventured along country highways and byways on a journey of enchanting discovery.

Susan's love and admiration for all things Beatrix Potter inevitably meant a trip to Beatrix's Lake District home. Hill Top cottage is world famous and open to the public and needless to say the cottage and it's garden were explored in intimate detail!

Below is a picture from the book showing Castle Cottage where Beatrix Potter lived after she married William Heelis. This was the final view Susan had of the area and she said her tearful 'goodbye' as rain fell from leaden skies.

Castle Cottage isn't too far from my own home so it was fascinating to read Susan's journal and I have to confess when she said goodbye to Beatrix Potter's world I shared her sadness with a tear in my eye. I was certain Beatrix would love reading the book.

As I reached the last page I was truly sorry the journey was over as it had been such fun. It has rained here in the Lake District all week but as I closed the book I noticed the sun had popped out and so I hatched a plan. . . . . . We ate a hasty supper and at 7 o'clock jumped into the car and sped off to join the queue waiting for the arrival of the small ferry that transports people across Windermere lake. And here comes the ferry; we'd better get ready to drive on board.

Whether you speak the English language or not I think this sign would leave you in no doubt about the danger of driving too close to the water before the ferry has properly docked!

We buy a ticket. . . . . . . .

. . . . . . . . . and we are on our way. The late August sun will soon have disappeared behind the hills so I hope I can reach my intended destination before it does.

It's a lovely evening to cross the lake but the clouds are gathering and it looks as if rain could return tomorrow.

A few minutes later we drive off the ferry and head for a small village. And here it is. A sleepy little collection of old cottages enjoying the last of the evening sun. The village is Near Sawrey.

It is the picture below of Beatrix Potter's old home, Castle Cottage, that I have come to capture by way of a thank you to Susan whose fascinating journey I have been allowed to share. . . . .

Apart from their supreme talent, Susan and Beatrix have many things in common and I know if Miss Potter happened to see me pop the book on her old stone wall she would have loved to take a peek and be full of admiration for the detailed work she found inside. As Susan lives too far away to take a quick after-supper trip to the village I decided her book should make the trip in her place.

During her visit last year Susan noticed lots of Beatrix Potter figurines for sale in local shops but no sheep and so I thought I'd bring along my own little flock to say 'Hello!' I'm sure several of you will recognise them (see free knitting pattern in the sidebar).

Time to leave. Pick up the book and tuck it safely into my bag. Remove the sheep before they tumble off the wall and then say 'goodbye' to Castle Cottage.

Finally, let me show you one more thing. Beatrix Potter painted the picture below over 100 years ago and it can be found in the Tale of Jemima Puddle-Duck. The building in the background is in the village and in Beatrix's day was known as the Tower Bank Arms (you can see the name on the front). Below the name is a clock. And guess what ? . . . . . .

The Tower Bank Arms is still open for business and the clock still tells the correct time.

If you haven't already discovered Susan's blog then do pay her visit, but I warn you, you won't want leave. Enjoy your weekends everyone.

Friday 16 August 2013

Inspirational craft book

Greetings friends. I tracked down a red squirrel this week and it was very close to where I live so I managed to photograph it (see my other blog Sheltered by Trees). As you'll have realised by now I'm currently dividing my time between red squirrels and dollies and I'm afraid the squirrels have recently been winning. However, a trip to a lovely craft gallery got my creative juices flowing and I returned home with this delightful book.

Belle and Boo are the creation of talented British artist Mandy Sutcliffe. Whilst spending time in France and sketching Parisian children in the park Belle and Boo slowly evolved and have very quickly become a British lifestyle brand. I'll give you a link to their web site at the end of this post.

Meanwhile here are a few sample pages from this beautiful book.

Don't you just love the little pull-along elephant (pattern in the book).

The clever mix of photographs and tiny painted characters is a delightful idea don't you think?

This is Belle. Her bobbed hair takes me straight back to my own childhood when many of us had this style. Sadly it isn't often seen in the UK these days as most little girls want to grow their hair long. I love the bobbed look.

And here is Boo. What a little sweetheart. (Pattern in the book).

You'll be pleased to hear all these delightful ideas have inspired me to get my knitting needles out again and I have made a start on a new doll. I never begin with a fixed idea but just experiment and hope for inspiration and so far all I can confirm is that the next dolly will be slightly bigger than most of the others. Two funny felt eyes are pinned in place and I have a tangled bundle of yarn that I position on top of her head to give her a bit more character! It doesn't sound very promising does it but I can assure this is the way I always work so hopefully something cute will eventually emerge. Meanwhile I'll leave you with a link to the Bell and Boo website. You'll find it by clicking HERE.

Wishing you all a happy weekend.

Friday 2 August 2013

Sunny summer illustrations

I love this book by John Burningham. It was first published in 1969 and the illustrations are typical of the time. Plenty of vivid colour washes and textural effects created from thick paint, ink and crayon.


I thought I'd show you the summer pictures as they perfectly depict the weather we've been having here in the Lake District during July.

Peaceful countryside and a pink holiday cottage. What could be nicer!

Love the misty heat haze over the water.

I can empathise with the poor fellow below! Flying insects of the bite or sting variety always seem to head in my direction.

Taking time off for some light refreshment. Much the best occupation for hot days.

And this is exactly how our spell of intense summer heat ended.
Quick, run for cover! But remember not to shelter under a tree!

And that takes me nicely to my new blog Sheltered by Trees (but not in a thunderstorm). This week I announce the winner of last week's giveaway. I'm also taking you to Wray Castle where Beatrix Potter spent a holiday in 1882. It was much too sunny to look inside the castle so we spend a little time walking to the lake shore.

Wray Castle in the Lake District

Enjoy your weekend everyone.