Sunday, 31 July 2011

The Glory of the Garden

The Lost Gardens of Heligan, Cornwall, UK
My mosaic of Heligan Gardens

This poem by Kipling has long been my favourite.  I'm not a keen gardener (unless sitting in the garden with glass of wine, watching hubby cutting the grass counts!).  There's just something about this poem that leaves me nostalgic, and wistful of an England of yesteryear that I never knew.  Where everyone had manners, it was sunny all the time, and they all sat in the shade drinking tea and eating cucumber sandwiches.  We'll skip quickly over the fact that if I did exist in those days, I would probably have been a lowly housemaid - with one afternoon off a month, and hands and knees raw from scrubbing the stone floors. 

The England of this poem is naive, polite and kind.  It's full of old-fashioned charm, and reminds me wholly of my Great-Uncle Dave who was head gardener at Dartington Hall in Devon many, many years ago.  It must have been written at about the same time he himself was starting out as a 'prentice boy.  I loved him dearly, he was the gentlest gentleman, and I always feel this poem could have been written about him.                                                                

I'm including some photos of Cornish gardens.  With the mildest climate in the British Isles, we are blessed with some wondrous gardens.  Many are in the once great private houses, some of which now belong to the National Trust.  Quite a few still remain in private ownership.  There are a number of large country estates in Cornwall, continuing to run in much the same way as centuries past - with the big house surrounded by it's rented cottage for the workers employed on the estate.  The only difference being that the gardens (and sometimes the house) are now opened to the public to bring in much needed income.

The Glory of the Garden - by Rudyard Kipling

Our England is a garden that is full of stately views,
Of borders, beds and shrubberies and lawns and avenues,
With statues on the terraces and peacocks strutting by;
But the Glory of the Garden lies in more than meets the eye.

Lanhydrock House and Garden - National Trust
For where the thick laurels grow, along the thin red wall,
You will find the tool- and potting-sheds which are the heart of all;
The cold-frames and the hot-houses, the dungpits and the tanks,
The rollers, carts and drain-pipes, with the barrows and the planks. 
The Potting Shed, Lost Gardens of Heligan
And there you'll see the gardners, the men and 'prentice boys
Told off to do as they are bid and to it without noise;
For, except when seeds are planted and we shout to scare the birds,
The Glory of the Garden it abideth not in words.

Living Sculptures - Lost Gardens of Heligan
And some can pot begonias and some can bud a rose,
And some are hardly fit to trust with anything that grows;
But they can roll and trim the lawns and sift the sand and loam,
For the Glory of the Garden occupieth all who come.

St Michaels Mount - Castle & Gardens open in arrangement with National Trust
Our England is a garden, and such gardens are not made
By singing:--"Oh, how beautiful!" and sitting in the shade,
While better men than we go out and start their working lives
At grubbing weeds from gravel-paths with broken dinner-knives.

Victorian Gardeners from Heligan
There's not a pair of legs so thin, there's not a head so thick,
There's not a hand so weak and white, nor yet a heart so sick,
But it can find some needful job that's crying to be done,
For the Glory of the Garden glorifieth every one.

The Maze, Glendurgan Gardens - National Trust
Then seek your job with thankfulness and work till further orders,
It it's only netting strawberries or killing slugs on borders;
And when your back stops aching and your hands begin to harden,
You will find yourself a partner in the Glory of the Garden.

Caerhays Castle - The Williams family are renowned for Camelias
Oh, Adam was a gardener, and God who made him sees
That half a proper gardener's work is done upon his knees,
So when your work is finished, you can wash your hands and pray
For the Glory of the Garden, that it may not pass away!
For the Glory of the Garden, that it may not pass away!

Saturday, 30 July 2011

Filling in the Blanks

Having just read today's blog by Sew, Vintage, So fun! it was just too hard to resist doing the same....

1. My favorite color is   cerise (and duck egg blue)  . 
2. My travel destination of choice is  Thailand .

3. My favorite food is   Thai Green Curry (What..... I'm only allowed one!) .

4. My happy place is snuggled up on the sofa with my hubby and dog

5. My favorite saying is "Everyone has to believe in something.... I believe I'll have another glass of wine" .

6. My dirty little secret is  - I couldn't possibly say.  I could tell you, but I'd have to kill you.

7. Something friends might say about me is that I 
-am bubbly and smiley, impossibly silly when drunk - with a tendancy to balance spoon on nose and arf like a seal.

Monday, 25 July 2011

Buttons with Bows

Don't you think these buttons are cute?

Patchwork printed fabric to cover the buttons, and tiny pink ribbon bows in the centres.

I always wondered how such tiny bows were made - thanks to Pinterest I can do them. Simply use a fork to wind the ribbon around, then tie a knot between the centre prong. Ta da - a perfect little bow slides off.

Thursday, 21 July 2011

Moi - the Car Boot Queen?

Here at Chez May, we're not ashamed to admit we are totally addicted to car boot sales. Luckily there's lots of them at this time of the year in Cornwall. Unfortunately the weather has meant that most of the recent ones have been a washout.

We started hunting for bargains three years ago when we had to leave our home abroad and return to the UK suddenly due to poorly parents. Leaving everything behind, we returned with what we could fit in a rather small car. So, we had a few clothes and a computer each.

Since then, we have managed to furnish our home here just about entirely from car boot sales, charity shops and eBay. I'm quite particular, albeit in a quirky way. I've found so many gorgeous pieces of art, fabulous household bargains, together with brilliant jewellery finds and designer clothing steals.

Running seriously out of room now, so focusing on pretty fabric finds and unusual bits and pieces.

Came home rather pleased with today's purchases. Do you like my pretty basket above? There was no way on earth I could resist that lace - and for a £1, how could I leave it there. I'm thinking I may hang it on a pretty hook in the bedroom and store some of my scarves inside.

Hubby spotted this cute little salt & pepper pot duo for £2. I don't have a lot of clutter (too terrified of turning into my mother). It is totally restricted to my large pine dresser. Officially, it may have run out of room some time ago.... But I keep managing to squeeze another find in.

I so love this little picture. Engraved into slate and then painted, within a chunky rustic frame. I would have bought this from any craft shop, but was totally ecstatic with paying £1.50 for it.

Today's fabric hoist.... The skirt may be a keeper yet, but I'm definitely not going to fit into the toddler dress. I always have a root around the baby clothes, it's a sure fire way of picking up pretty, unusual fabric swatches at a snip. I usually pay between 50p and a £1. Most dresses are gathered, and can have pretty embellishments and buttons. Once attacked with the rotary cutter, it can be surprising how much fabric you are left with.

About the only thing I collect is blue and white china. (My husband would be screaming Boots and Bags if he was looking over my shoulder) I don't like Willow pattern, but am drawn to anything else. Spots, stripes, floral, nature - you name it, I've got it. I've already got a Whisky water jug, a pottery Gin dispenser - and today I've added this Brandy jug to the collection. It was £5 which rather pained me. Oh, did I mention we like quirky things? Can you see the date on the manky piece of wood....... It's an old cosh dating from 1887.

The pretty linked bracelet on the left was today's bargain silver find. I love silver jewellery, and have a serious fetish for bracelets - I never take 2 of them off. One because I can't! Squeezed on the bangle past my shovel hands (even half plastered with one eye closed my hands could never be called ladylike), and it's stuck for eternity. Quite frankly dreading my next trip through airport security. I'm always a source of irritation and dis-em-jangling.

This dress is going in the wardrobe until the autumn. It's knee-length, in black, cream and forest green. I'm thinking it will look fab with boots and long cardigan. £3 added this little number to the closet.

Finally, a pretty find. I'm a complete sucker for things like this. Totally impractical and incredibly pretty. A pretty bargain too - for £1.50.

So this second hand Rose has shown you her finds for today. She's now off out for a glass or five of wine with friends. The Watering Hole on the beach at Perranporth is our destination should you know of it. And should you see a woman with spiky hair and raucous laugh and wonder where she shops; for the record... The designer top was £3, suede clutch bag £2 and the fab DM sandals were an incredible £15 bargain new. All found at a car boot sale of course.

Monday, 18 July 2011

Write it, Draw it, Show it

I'm delighted and excited to be involved (in a very small way) with a brand new website for creative young people:-

 A special place where young people are able to showcase their talents in a safe and secure environment.  Whatever their creative side; be it writing, poetry, art, craft, design, handicrafts, photography, sewing..... you name it - it can be included here. 

To give you a little more information, here is the Who, Why and How direct from the site -

Write it Draw It Show It  is a showcase website designed for children to submit their creative work. A concept by two mums who had run out of space to hang up pictures around the home and had a draw filled with A4 paper, with their children’s stories on, never seeing the light of day.
Now, with a little guidance from parents, kids can email stories, interviews, articles, art work and reviews to
Write It Draw It Show It and beam with pride as their work gets displayed for others to see.
The Write It Draw It Show It team consist of Ruth and Kelly. With six children between them, they are  both self employed with a smidgen of technical skill and bundles of energy.
Art work and creative writing always takes some time and such care to do (and clean up) and it seems such a waste that most creations end up discretely hidden in the bin. With our children’s love of technology and no other website that specifically showcases the creativity of children, Ruth and Kelly decided to create one of their own.
Simply send your child’s work to the email address below and we will upload it to the site.
Is Write It Draw It Show It safe to use?
All personal details are removed from the site and children use a nickname or alias to which their work is credited. The only other information we need is their age (the number rather than the date of birth) and some details about the piece of work they are submitting. Any content that reveals personal details will be removed and we won’t accept photographs of children or locations.  There will be no comments on the pages or email addresses revealed and the only way of contacting an author will be via our team email address.
We insist all children and adults read our safety guidelines before taking part.

***Logo Competition***
Write it, Draw it, Show it is currently running a logo competition, as the site is keen to ensure children are involved right from the beginning.  If you know a child who would enjoy designing a logo, please do take a look at the site and get them to send an entry in.  How marvelous would that be?... to have your artwork featured as the main logo of a website!

Alongside the opportunity to showcase creative talent, the site is also about helping the creativity process.  There will be articles on how to be creative and improve on those talents. 
Members of the creative online community are signing up to take part to help youngsters nurture their skills, and hopefully encourage them to take part in new activities.

Isn't it a wonderful idea?  You may have noticed a request via Twitter in the last few days.  If you would like to be involved in some way, do please visit the site and get in contact.  

I am to be involved on the "Get Inspired"page of the site.  I have volunteered to come up with regular craft or sewing projects, that will appeal to young people - simple projects that are possible to complete with a minimum of help, time and expense.  I have also offered to provide answers to any sewing queries that may crop up from time to time.

I wish Ruth and Kelly every success with this wonderful idea.  I very much hope that those reading this blog will help spread the word, and encourage children they know to become involved.  I'm sure a bit of blogging and twittering will be received with delight and thanks.

Tip.... Summer holidays coming up!  What a great way to keep the kids occupied :)

Starting off gently with the making process - (running it all past my highly opinionated 12 year old daughter!)  Here is my first make it project ......

Jewellery Hanger
A quick and simple make

What you need 

A clothes hanger  - (I've used a smooth plastic one, but a wood or wire one would work too)

A small amount of fabric - (I've used a pretty tiered skirt, age 3 - which I bought at a car-boot sale for 50p.  I often find pretty fabrics this way, for a fraction of the price of buying new). Or perhaps someone in your home has a pretty garment that is past it's best, and they may be happy to donate it to you?  Worth asking!

PVA Glue - I used ModPodge, but any PVA Glue will be fine

Pretty Hairclip (or a piece of ribbon, or a fabric strip to tie in a bow)

Don't worry if you haven't any fabric - how about using pages from a glossy magazine that you've finished reading?  Pretty wrapping paper?  Scrapbooking papers?

I love to be able to re-use items that would otherwise be thrown away or re-cycled.  Rather than re-cycle, I like to up-cycle and create something new.  The best bit with doing this is I get to have something completely different to anyone else - and I can say I've made it!  Even better - it costs hardly anything.

The How to

First of all - and most importantly, make sure that the area you are crafting in is protected from any glue spillages.  If working at a table, cover it with newspaper.  I worked on my lap using a tray, which I put inside a plastic carrier bag first.

Get cutting!  All you need to do is cut your fabric into strips.  There's no need to worry about them being perfect and all the same - it's not going to matter.  Try to keep them about an inch wide (2.5cm).
This will be easiest to do with sharp scissors, so be very careful.

Now for the fun, messy bit!  Do be careful with the PVA Glue.  It does peel off your fingers easily when it's dry - and is strangely enjoyable to do, but whatever you do - make sure you keep it away from your eyes and mouth!  

Smear glue onto the clothes hanger, and also onto your first fabric strip.  Do a little bit of the hanger at a time otherwise it will be sticky chaos.  Holding one end of the strip firmly against the hanger, start wrapping tightly around, making sure you are working your way along.  Press down firmly as you go. Don't panic if your fabric is looking all white and horrid - PVA glue dries clear, and will give it a nice protective finish. Continue adding strips until you are happy with how it looks.  Mine has several layers - I carried on until I had used up all the strips I'd cut.

Here's where you can be creative and do your own thing.....

You might like to glue a bit of ribbon around, or scraps of lace.  What about pom-poms, buttons or bits of broken jewellery?  This is your creation - you can make it however you like.

Once you are happy with how it's looking, set aside and leave to dry.  I hung mine up over a door-frame so it wouldn't stick to anything.  Depending how many strips you've added, it could take quite a while to dry..... so you've plenty of time to tidy up your crafting bits and decide which necklaces you want to display.

As a simple finishing touch, I clipped on a flower hair-clip to the middle.  Looks pretty, and I can still use it if I want to.  If you haven't a hair clip, I'm sure you can think of other great ways to decorate.

A ribbon or fabric strip bow?  A small cuddly toy tied on?  A paper flower?

Now all you need to do is add your jewellery, and find somewhere special to hang it. And one more thing!........

 Don't forget to take a photo and post it to Write it, Draw it, Show it - you know we want to see

Have fun creating - there will be another project soon,
bye for now - Jan, Cajame Creations