Thursday, 6 May 2010

She hadn't yet decided....

Well I'm sorry.
I'll only mention it this once. The election of course.

I have Been and Gone and Done it. Voted.

After weeks of agonising about who to vote for this time I still only made the choice when the pen was actually in my hand in the voting booth. Despite feeling disillusioned with all the major political parties over the last few years I've still been deliberating endlessly on where my vote is going to go.

Having a small business which often balances the tightrope between profit and loss, and living in the often politically overlooked countryside, being concerned about food security and a lack of support for farmers, lots of people would think it natural to vote Conservative.

Having a mum who survives frugally on her state pension and values her free bus pass as a wonderful gift ( particularly last year when she has having to use it to take three busses a day to visit her partner in the Hospice,) it would seem fair to vote for the Labour Party who made it possible.

And anyone who thinks electoral reform is important; and that people who struggle by earning less than £10,000 a year shouldn't have to pay income tax, and that the banks deserve a good hammering for messing up big time and then not lending to good businesses in the aftermath (oh dear: I feel a rant coming on.....) would have to vote Liberal Democrat.

I can't help thinking that my vote doesn't matter in the least anyway, and why on earth am I taking it so seriously? My friend Alice remarked yesterday that her two nieces at university weren't going to bother to vote, and that her own daughter of 15 was appalled at their decision. I can't help thinking that the 15 year old schoolgirl is a lot wiser than her older student cousins.

It also makes me wonder what the point of a University education is if it results in such apathy? As Alice mildly pointed out, some people in Africa walk for days to get their polling station because they see their vote as being so important. Afghani's and Iraqi's face bombs in order to vote. So many people bemoan the state of Britain and say things are so awful, but surely things can't be so bad for many if they can't be bothered to vote. And it must be the sign of a stable nation free of serious strife where people assume that everything'll be ok whether they vote or not.

My daughter Eliza has been interested in the election , as have the children of my friends , which is interesting. When I was eleven it all just passed me by, really. There was little political conversation in our household. It mostly amounted to my dad swearing under his breath whenever Margaret Thatcher appeared on the news. (But hardly surprising in view of the fact that he had been made redundant three times in not many more years as the factories in our Northern industrial town closed down , one by one.) His hatred for the Tories didn't prevent him from joining the town's Conservative Club to drink their cheaper beer, though, as most working men seemed to in our area!

Eliza couldn't believe it when we said that women had died in the early years of the 20th C so that we could have the vote. And it wasn't too much earlier that ordinary working men with no money behind them didn't have the power to vote either. So it seems frivolous not to exercise our right to vote however excruciating , or easy, the choice may be, or however obvious the result may seem to be.

And as a footnote to all this, I do wish that they would put up some big signs in the polling stations saying that it's a cross you must put in your chosen box, and not a tick. I had to triple check with the ladies behind the table at the station this morning. Because a tick is precisely what I entered on my polling card as a politically fired-up eighteen year old using my right to vote for the first time in the 1980's. Rendering it vote null and void. And I've been mortified about it ever since.

Well that's my journal entry to mark the election, and I shan't speak of it again...

Next time, lots of jolly, lightweight stuff about chicks, lambs and the dawn chorus.

Over and out !

Tuesday, 4 May 2010

Honiton Textile Market

Vintage Foraging...

At last! Yesterday my friend Val and I spent many happy hours foraging for old and beautiful bits at the Honiton Vinage Fabric Fair in Devon. Val was so enthusiastic that she had even managed to buy a 1970's apron even before we got inside the door of the church hall where it was held......

I do apologise for the photo above, which does no justice whatsoever to my lovely finds: perhaps a verbal description will help them come to life for you: the two bottom layers of fabric are felted wool squares dyed in different shades of pink, next layer: vintage French monogrammed linen hand dyed a beautiful shade of lavender; a card of lavender linen 1" wide braid; 2 metres of Swiss flower embroidered ribbon; 6 lavender glass buttons; some French Grey darning wool; some cotton lace, and top right, a 1950's cotton print wrap around apron/overall.

Below is a slightly fuzzy photo (sorry: rubbish quality photography,) of the monogrammed linen and glass button type things.)
Below is a close up of the apron: I had a lovely vision of what I'd look like wearing it. In my mind's eye I looked winsome and sylph-like: quite elegant, despite wearing an overall. Unfortunately, when trying it on at home , in the mirror I just looked very pregnant. ( And I'm not . .... A year or two I got quite traumatised when four different people asked me if I was pregnant over the space of about six months. I ended up at Slimmers World for the next half a year, trying to lose my barrel waist. My husband said I should think myself lucky that people thought I still looked young enough for it to be possible.)

But anyhow...... here's my other purchase, below: some vintage curtain fabric with a seagull and lobster pot print. Which hopefully will one day become two cushion covers.

I think my blog could be very useful in that if I tell you what I'm planning to do with my purchases, I may feel obliged to actually do that thing, rather than put it in the airing cupboard for the next ten years.

So here goes: Here Is My Pledge
  • I shall make a pink woollen cushion with applique bits on it from the felt squares

  • I shall remodel the apron so that I look less pregnant;

  • I shall make a classic full length apron with the lavender coloured French linen and tape;

  • I'll make some cushion covers from the seagull print.

  • And pigs might fly.

  • But I Have Pledged and So I Will. Make them. Soon.

I saw lovely Lis Van Hasselt on her stall at the Fair ( that's where the seagull fabric came from) : and she was the person who first got me thinking about starting a blog, a year ago. She gave me some tips about uploading photos this time which were very handy. Thankyou, Lis! Here's her blog: If you like vintage stuff you'll love her blog.

And thankyou to everybody who has joined the followers section on this blog. it's really really interesting reading your profiles. It's amazing how we are all so far from one another but have such similar interests.

Later this week I'll tell you about a really interesting meeting I had today about an art holiday I've been asked to tutor at a beautiful hotel in the seaside town of Sidmouth. It used to be the Georgian holiday home of an English Lord, and is a confection of white Regency Gothic architecture. I took some rather mediocre photographs with which I shall also regale you......

Until then......
The Innkeeper's Wife
PS. My blog doesn't seem to want to upload another photo at the moment, so I'm afraid you'll have to visit again in a day or two to see the photo of the bottle fed twin South Devon red calves at my friend Elizabeth's farm..... keep the kettle on!

Monday, 3 May 2010

Honey, I'm Home...!
Just got back last night from my trip to The North to go and see mum for a few days, and here're my two jars of Lancashire honey to prove it. Phew: my porridge just hasn't tasted right these last few weeks.......

Mum, Eliza and I made a trip to a little market town called Clitheroe, where my dad's family came from, in the beautiful Ribble Valley area of Lancashire. First stop was to the special Butcher's stall on the Saturday Market where they sell phenomenal local honey.

We made a little detour to another butchers where I spotted some tripe to show Eliza, who'd never seen it before. For those happy souls who aren't sure of what tripe is, it is the rubbery, bleached stomach lining of a cow. Mmm, mmm... The previous night Mum had been regaling us with some horrifying stories of having tripe for lunch every day for six months, about twenty years ago, and how much weight she had lost. (Some might say it was hardly surprising: it would put me off eating for life...) On the days when there was no "honeycombe" (that's a particular kind of tripe,) available she would have to make do with a cow heel. Aargh! And that's what I spotted at the butchers stall: some genuine, bleached white ankle bones complete with the insides of the hooves. (Hoofs?) Eeeeughw.... I know it's considered a delicacy in Venice, but even the Venetians can't get absolutely everything right.

After that little diversion we ambled on to buy some pie tins and muffin tins from my favourite baking stall; pottered around town and then drove on to Oswaldtwistle, a little former mill town where one of the cotton mills has been converted into a shopping centre. There I bought some crafting materials and three scrapbooks. I've got plans ( well I've always got plans, but it's a miracle whenever that actually come to fruition!)

The plans are to make a scrapbook called "A Year at Sampsons Farm", to show the visitors to our B&B a little bit about our life here; another one about the Watercolour Workshops I teach here, with lots of photo's of students' paintings; and the third one, well I suspect that one will hang around in a carrier bag in a corner for a while. Probably for a couple of years, on previous form. Here's a pic of the window box of pansies, for the scrapbook, and another chicken one (oh, surprise!) of Charlie:Charlie , our Buff Orpington cockerel,
Whilst at mum's I managed to do the first three double page spreads for Winter part of the Sampsons scrapbook: I'll post a photo tomorrow. As much as I love crafting and scrapbooking , I do seem to spent two thirds of my time searching through every item I possess for the elusive perfect colour of paper, or the right kind of glue, and just one third actually making it. But I managed to get lots done and it was really satisfying, sitting at my mum's dining table by a big window, sorting through photo's, stamp pads and ribbons, my daughter curled up in a chair, engrossed in a book, and hearing the squeak of the rocking chair and the gentle click of knitting needles as my mum soldiered on with making a cardigan for her friend Janet. How lovely and homely. Time spent with my mum is very precious......

Tomorrow I'm off to Honiton Textiles Fair. Can't wait! Will tell you all about it very soon.

And I know that in my last post I promised some lovely photo's of lambs and calves from my friend's farm where I've been sketching and painting. Well, they are coming later this week, but here's just one as a little taster...

Come and see me again soon, and don't forget to put the kettle on ready for next time...

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