Wednesday, 18 July 2018

A Marriage of Two Parts - Part 2

After two days of baking it was on with the posh frocks once more and off to Childerley Hall for the second part of Sam and Elle's wedding. The part they had proclaimed as their bandit wedding as opposed to their legal wedding!

The setting was gorgeous, in the grounds of a stunning Tudor house and the weather was perfect.

The bridesmaids were beautiful and the groomsmen (and women) and groom were very smart in their matching waistcoats, which by some stroke of luck all fitted!

The marriage ceremony took place in the orchard, overseen by a humanist celebrant, Sarah, who clearly knew Sam and Elle very well. I'm not sure I could easily sum up these two very unique and quirky individuals but a better match is hard to imagine and Sarah managed to convey that to everyone present. Although of course, we already knew that! 

They had written their own vows which were beautiful and just perfect. Their love for each other was very evident.

With the ceremony over, we gathered in the garden and as Sam and Elle appeared down the steps we all blew bubbles rather than throw confetti. They both love bubbles!

There were cocktails and canapés and lots more laughter.

It was then into the Victorian long barn for a fabulous meal provided by Provenance Kitchen, accompanied by some wonderful speeches from Elle's parents Ros and Nigel, from Sam and Elle, and also from the 'best man' Vicky who spoke beautifully without notes.

During the past year Elle has painstakingly crafted 1000 origami cranes which filled ten vases to decorate the tables. In Japan they are thought to bring good luck and everlasting happiness.

And of course there was cake... over 150 cupcakes in four different flavours

As well as a fruit cake which was a collaboration - Elle's Mum Ros made the delicious cake which I decorated.

There was dancing to a live ceilidh band and before the night was over there was more food, including fabulous ice cream from Jack's Gelato.

So now here we are on the other side of two weddings in two weeks, I now have two married sons and two lovely daughters-in-law, our various house guests have all moved on and it feels a bit quiet if I'm honest. We've not come to the end of our family weddings yet - Stewart's daughter gets married at the end of next month but at least we have a few weeks to catch our breath, to focus once again on our house move and to possibly even get some work done. 

Tuesday, 17 July 2018

A Marriage of Two Parts - Part 1

We had no sooner come home from Greece from my eldest son's wedding than we were donning our glad rags once more for my second eldest son's wedding. And whereas the first was a totally Greek experience this time it was typically Cantabrigian.

Sam and Elle's legal ceremony took place in Cambridge on Wednesday attended by close family and friends.

It was an intimate ceremony where they were married in the eyes of the law.

After which the entire wedding party walked down Castle Hill to the River Cam. Long time readers will know that Sam's day job (when he isn't writing) is pushing punts for tourists but this time he was allowed to sit and enjoy the ride as his punting company provided three punts with chauffeurs for us all.

The prosecco flowed and there was much laughter and fun. It was wonderful to see Sam and Elle look so happy.

Everyone enjoyed themselves from the very youngest member of the party, our grandson

(Who didn't stop giggling the entire afternoon)

to the oldest member, my Mum, who thoroughly enjoyed herself.

Once off the punts we then headed to the rooftop bar and restaurant of The Varsity Hotel with its views over Cambridge where we had a lovely meal.

It was another very happy occasion... but it was just the beginning...

Three days later we were celebrating all over again for what was in many ways the main event. The vows, exchange of rings and the party. The two days in between I spent baking and decorating cupcakes... but you'll just have to come back tomorrow to see the cakes and hear all about the second instalment!

Saturday, 7 July 2018

Mamma Mia

I'm sitting around on my first weekend of Open Studios and it has been a slow day, which is probably just as well after the frantic few days setting up since getting home from Greece. I'm not expecting crowds of people this afternoon either... England are playing football. I find it too tense to watch but pop my head in the room next door every so often when I hear cheering!

So would you like to hear about Greece? We left home at 1am on Saturday morning (I can't believe it's a week ago already) to catch a flight at silly o'clock. We didn't bother going to bed beforehand and we were eating breakfast at Gatwick airport at 4am. Our flight was to Kalamata, where the twenty of us who were on our way to the wedding were met by a coach for the three and a half hours by road to catch the ferry to Elafonisos. 

It was worth it... mountains, turquoise sea and deserted beaches.

We showered, had a cheeky little G & T and walked down to the beach where pretty much the entire wedding party was relaxing and swimming. After meeting the bride's parents for the first time and being treated to a wonderful Greek meal it was back to the hotel for some much needed sleep.

The next day was spent back on the beach and in the sea until late afternoon, when we made our way back to the hotel to shower and change ready for the evening. It was lovely to be able to spend time with my brother and sister in law while we were away.

The entire wedding party congregated at the taverna by the beach until we received word that the bride was ready. We then followed my son Ben, the groom, who was carrying a bouquet of lavender and wheat stems, in a procession up the hillside. Suddenly there was a cry from the rear... "Stop!"

And there was the bride, Alexandra, looking stunning, walking up the hill to meet her groom.

They met, Ben handed over the bouquet...

And then they walked on together and we followed again.

At the top of the hill we arrived at the tiny whitewashed Greek Orthodox church. It was just like Mamma Mia but without Pierce Brosnan singing (thank goodness)

Inside the ceremony was very formal and was sung in Greek by a priest who had been a former opera singer... definitely no bad singing at this wedding!

Despite the formality of the service the atmosphere in the church was very informal. Guests wandered in and out of the church, which was mostly standing room only, they chatted, they took photos. It was wonderful.

As the ceremony drew to a close all the guests were ushered outside...

We waited expectantly by the side door that we had entered while Ben and Alexandra signed the register... oh no! They were coming out a different door... so off we all went to the front door where we all threw rice at the newly weds as they emerged. Apparently the words for rice and roots are very similar in Greek and the rice signifies the putting down of roots together. A wonderful way to wish Ben and Alexandra a very happy life together.

The sun was setting over the sea as photographs were taken.
We then all wandered back down to the taverna for a Greek wedding feast... by now it was past 10pm!

There was eating dancing and drinking all night and we finally rolled back to our hotel at about 2.30am. The younger members of our party stayed up dancing before going onto the beach, where I have it on good authority they were skinny dipping at 5am... we retrieved youngest son's specs from the sea the following day!

Monday was another day on the beach, a late leisurely lunch and drinks on the terrace before an early night. Not quite such an early start as our journey out but we were up at 4am on Tuesday for the return trip. The ferry wasn't running at that time of the morning so we were shuttled in small groups by car and fishing boats under cover of darkness to board our bus on the mainland. It all felt rather illicit.

So a truly Greek experience and the most wonderful wedding that I won't forget. (Also my first time at a Greek Wedding... that must count as a sixty x sixty)

I close up Open Studios for the day in half hour, so I'm hoping it might be a bit busier tomorrow but at least England have won their game today. Then next week it will be on to wedding number two. Someone asked me on Facebook "Where were the waistcoats" and my response was "Next week, next son, next wedding". See you on the other side!

Thursday, 28 June 2018


You didn't think I would be back for a while did you, but I'm sitting here killing time and I've missed you! I know it IS going to suddenly go crazy round here but at the moment all is quiet. So quiet I have read two books in less than two weeks, both of them picked up at our local book exchange (in a decommissioned telephone kiosk)

I do enjoy a good Jodie Picoult and this one was no exception. As usual she does not shy away from tricky or controversial subjects and without giving too much away Small Great Things is about racial prejudice. An African American midwife tends to the new born baby of a white supremacist couple who request she is not involved in the care of their son. After a routine procedure, the baby dies and the couple are looking for someone to blame. This is largely about the aftermath and the murder trial that follows. But it is not just about the obvious racial hatred but also the covert racism that exists everywhere. Thought provoking and compulsive reading.

I also spotted At the Edge of the Orchard in the phone box, the only Tracey Chevalier novel I haven't read to date. I soon put that to right and read this in about three days, which is as much to do with the amazing weather we've been having, where I really don't feel much like doing any more than sitting in the garden reading with a pink gin, as it is about the quality of the book. Although it also happens to be a great read. It is set in America back in the days of the gold rush pioneers and is about family ties and loyalty, trees and apples. You'll just have to read it!

I've also been to London to teach a class on rag rugs which gives at least a couple of hours sitting on trains or waiting for them. Anyone else living in the south east will know how much time that involves lately with the numerous delays and cancellations. But the plus side means plenty of reading time, so much that I have almost finished the book I was planning to take to Greece with me. We fly off tomorrow night/early hours of Saturday so I'm just a bit excited... and I definitely won't be back here before then!

Friday, 22 June 2018

I'm Still Here!

I feel I'm in a time warp. It's weird, the days are long and don't feel particularly rushed but the weeks are whizzing by with so much to fit in. Blogging as ever seems to have taken the back seat. We've had a birthday, well there have actually been four family birthdays in the past three weeks but only one for which I needed to bake. Stewart opted for a cheesecake over anything else so that is what he got. Lemon and raspberry which was rather delicious since you ask!

I am acutely aware that in two weeks time my home will be open for Cambridge Open Studios once more. At least I don't have to clean and tidy up, having the house on the market has done wonders for my standard of housekeeping. And Stewart has become quite the gardener. Weeding and grass cutting a speciality.

In between various other activities I have snatched moments at my sewing machine to make some small items for sale. Of course three months ago there were grand plans for all sorts of gift items to be stitched. But  they haven't really got beyond the planning stage. The bag of forty zips I bought for making a collection of little zipped bags will have to keep for Christmas... or possibly next year. There have been a few lavender bags finished off though.

However it is next week that it will be all systems go. I have a wedding cake to cover and decorate, no. 3 son to collect from Gatwick before we all head off to Greece for no. 1 son's wedding... Gatwick again at 5.35 am! We will be back home just in time (with three additional house guests) for my first weekend of Open Studios, then a small family only civic ceremony when son no. 2 gets married,  followed by punting on the River Cam and dinner. There is a small matter of 150 cupcakes to bake and decorate before we then have a big wedding party to celebrate son no. 2's wedding. And all this before 14th July! That's not even mentioning house viewings etc.

So when my lovely friend Terry asked did I want to join another couple of ladies learning to make mosaics with her, I jumped at a chance of a day out doing something exclusively for me. It was a lovely day where we worked in the garden under the shade of a tree. Not only did I finish this rather quirky bird but I managed to use up some paua shell that I'd brought back from New Zealand six years ago. If it had been the first time I tried mosaic I might have been able to clock up another 60 x 60 but it is the third time!

The first time was when I made this very well used, hence grubby, coaster that came as a free kit with Inspirations magazine. I used to love that magazine that was always packed full of fabulous stuff to make and interviews with really interesting makers. But it disappeared years ago. My coaster however lives on!

Then many years later I met Terry at Open Studios and a bond was formed over common interests of sewing and amateur dramatics. And she very generously gave me a one to one session where I made this plaque. It wasn't that long ago but I'd forgotten everything, despite wanting to make more mosaics (I never did of course), so it was lovely to spend Wednesday learning all over again.

And once again I would like to make more mosaic... although it's not going to happen over the next couple of weeks. I fact over lunch recently Terry said she didn't want to see me blogging over the beginning of July until all weddings etc are over. She has a point, realistically I probably won't have time but I might sneak back with an odd photo or two. You'll want to see photos of our gorgeous Mamma Mia wedding won't you?

I also found time to go off and do what will probably be my final 60 x 60 (although it is actually only no. 53) yesterday afternoon as my 61st birthday falls between these two weddings. I tried Circle dancing for the first time. It was outside in a beautiful garden where we spent a couple of hours dancing gentle rhythmical dances to lovely music, celebrating the arrival of midsummer. The whole chakra, lei lines, priestess, airy fairy floaty stuff wasn't really my cup of tea so it's not an experience I will probably repeat but I did thoroughly enjoy my afternoon. I won't mention the fact that I don't seem to be able to distinguish my left from my right. The strawberry and cake afternoon tea was rather good too!

And finally, I haven't forgotten... that Festival of Quilts ticket. I did a random names in a hat type of thing and the winner was Jee... I'll email you Jane.

Have a lovely weekend and you'll know where I am if I'm not writing here!

Tuesday, 12 June 2018


I was reminded last week that one of my resolutions or intentions for 2018 was to finish off all those half finished or just started projects I have lurking around... and there are a lot of them which I'm not sure says much for my attention span!

Long time readers will know that I'm not really a patchwork and quilter although I'm often irresistibly drawn to beautiful piles of fabric and lured into believing that I will be able to make something fabulous with them. This was the case a few years ago at the Festival of Quilts when I bought these gorgeous shot cottons from Oakshott Fabrics.

My intention was to make a table runner with some place mats but I forged ahead without much of a plan and cut out lots of rectangular pieces to make log cabin blocks and at the time I may have even made up a couple of the blocks. And then it was all put into a bag and put away in a drawer while I plunged myself with enthusiasm into the next thing to grab my interest. Occasionally it would come out again and I would have to remind myself of the process all over again and try to remember if I had a plan for the end result but I never got very far until this week.

I finished all the blocks, twenty one in total and it was time to decide how to put them together. It was then I realised if I wanted a runner plus place mats I probably should have had more of a plan before cutting out the fabric in the first place. So instead I just stitched them all together and decided to see what I ended up with. To be honest I was just happy that things lined up and corners more or less came together.. for an ex-mathematician my accuracy in cutting and sewing up leaves a lot to be desired!

And so here it is... possibly the wrong proportions for a table runner (without mats unless I invest in more fabric), certainly too small to be a quilt but maybe it will end up as a wall hanging? All suggestions most gratefully received! Of course, there is still the small matter of quilting, lining and binding so I'm nowhere near having finished this project but possibly a little closer than I was.

And talking of quilts does lead me very nicely into what I really need to tell you and that is I will be back at the Festival of Quilts this summer teaching two one hour workshops for Husqvarna on Saturday 11th and Sunday 12th August. We will be making little needle cases decorated with free machine embroidery - everything is supplied, you just need to show up!

And what is more... I have a free ticket for the show to give away. If you would like a chance to win the ticket then please leave a comment and I will pick a name at random this time next week. Leave me a comment even if you don't want a ticket... I need ideas of what to do with that log cabin patchwork!

And while you are about it please remind me that I do not need to buy any more fabric at the Festival of Quilts this year!