Archive for the 'England' Category

Our summer in England

This year, Tony gave me a present on his birthday. I came home to find a card in the doorway (painted by Rose) with four cans of compressed gas. The rest of the gift was laid out on the living room floor: two inflatable bed rolls, two sleeping bags (the kind that zip together), a small gas cooker and a tent. He had a plan. The plan was for “a grand camping trip through England”.

I’m sure many people thought us foolish for spending our precious summer holiday on a camping trip to England. Actually, I know some of you did. You told me. Despite the inhibiting factors kindly pointed out to us (advanced pregnancy, unreliable weather, unreliable car, etc) we embarked on our big adventure. A last hurrah as a family of three.

High and low points:

Ferry trip from Dunquirk to Dover. White cliffs, as promised.

Staying with delightful Jim and Libby West, our new friends in Essex.

Seeing Jamie Oliver’s father Trevor at the Cricketer’s in Essex

A day in London

Singing “Portobello Road” on Portobello Road and “Feed the Birds” on the steps of St Paul’s

Spending the second night of our camping adventure in Gloucester hospital with severe vomiting

Free health care with my German health insurance. Love the European Union.

Being advised by the hospital doctor not to continue with the camping adventure

Deciding to salvage the holiday with last minute guesthouse accommodation

“Full English” breakfasts in guesthouses

The beautiful Cornish seaside

Driving onto the narrowest, steepest pedestrian street in Cornwall with swarms of tourists glaring

Finding that, despite all appearances to the contrary, it was possible to drive out the other side

Bath (so far my all time favourite city)

Cambridge (so far Tony’s all time favourite city)

A Jane Austen pilgrimage to Lyme Regis

Being in so much pre-labour pain that I couldn’t reach the Cobb to see Louisa Musgrove’s steps

Spending the warmest, driest day of our trip on the side of the road waiting for a tow-truck

Learning our car was not broken down

Driving safely home through five countries

Being home just in time to go into labour

Thanks must go to my darling husband. It was his idea, his generosity and his exertion which made such a holiday possible. Always my companion in adventures big and small.



Oh to be in England

Feeling Quilty…

Set of Chintz bed hangings (detail), 1730-50. Museum no. 242-1908.

Just quietly, hand-quilting is about the most impressive craft I can think of. Insane, but still impressive. Imagine taking hundreds of mathematically perfect shapes and piecing them together by hand, then turning it into a padded blanket and overlaying the whole thing with zillions of tiny stitches. I never thought much of it while Mum was doing exactly this all those years. Though it’s a little out of vogue at the moment, many die hard hand-quilters are still out there (right Sam?) defying the machine-quilting mania.

But it seems they may be making a come back. If you’re lucky enough to be in London this month, on behalf of us all please check out the Quilt Exhibition at the V&A. Quilts: 1700 to 2010 features items from the V&A’s unseen collection as well as many that were commissioned for the exhibition. To mark the occasion, the V&A has teamed up with none other than Liberty of London. Liberty has released a line of limited edition fabrics based on quilts from the museum’s collection. Here’s a selection;

Seed Head in red
India Flower in green

They’re almost enough to make me have a go. All I can say Mum is I’m sorry I didn’t appreciate it more when I was younger.

To Liberty, at last

Two exciting things happened for MavisandFrank this week. Firstly, the lovely Emily from Timeless Paper featured me on her beautiful blog. And secondly, a bracelet was featured here in an Etsy treasury. Bring on Spring, I say! Florals are back in at last. I’ve often wondered why I am so attracted to Liberty fabrics. The answer, I feel, is their connection with childhood. My mother was part of an industrious patchwork quilting group (the hand quilting kind). Squares and scraps of Liberty’s classic florals were highly prized treasures. My sister and I grew up wearing handmade party dresses with smocking and peter pan collars, made with Tana Lawn. In fact, for a while in the late 80s it was fashionable in my mother’s set to wear drop-waisted dresses in Liberty florals. How I wish she’d kept them. I think its for this reason that I find so much nostalgia in the fabrics I use for my jewellery. It would be hard to pull off the drop-waisted floral look in these days of clean lines, muted colours and high waists. But maybe, just maybe, a necklace or a bracelet in the brilliant green of ‘Betsy’ or the cranberry-pink of ‘Wiltshire’ is enough to add a splash of colour, even nostalgia, to the most demure ensemble.

At this point I can go no longer without telling you of my recent visit to the Liberty store in London.  As a seller of items inspired by and made from the timeless fabrics, it felt like a pilgrimage I must make for my own creative integrity. After all, it was educational! A research trip, a staff development day, for the self-employed crafter. I was not disappointed. We  met Keren at the Great Marlborough Street entrance. While the rain began to fall and Tony pushed Rose back and fourth, I made my way through shelves of teapots, cushions and notebooks. I needed a treasure, a souvenir. But what? The answer was of course, a scarf! A Liberty scarf is the ultimate accessory. At a cost of around a hundred a twenty-five pounds, however, a scarf was not an option. Enter, my clever and stylish friend Keren. There, in a small corner of the third floor, she found a box of Liberty handkerchiefs. At seven pounds, these were (almost) affordable. Shaped into an elegant strip and tried around the neck, a handkerchief was indistinguishable from a scarf. Buoyed by our thriftiness and nonconformity, we headed for the mock-Tudor staircase and the rain outside,  just as Rose gave one last exasperated outburst.

Tony enjoying the cream tea with rose petal jam

Please don’t be worried if you don’t hear from us for a few days. We’re hitting the autobahn in our new VW and heading south to Lake Como, Italy. In appreciation for her travelling half way round the world to be with us, we asked Lesley if there was a part of Europe she’d especially like to see. Italy was her choice, and thither we must go. The things you do for you Mother-in-law. Viva Italia!

London Calling

I have dreamed of visiting London since Mary Poppins was given to me on VHS. I’m reasonably sure the film was shot in Disney’s studio. Nonetheless, London became the place of my yearnings. Twenty years on, I had my first opportunity to visit, en route to Germany. I felt I was entering Aladdin’s cave, an endless maze of delights just waiting to be sampled and savoured. I fully expected to find pigeons, chimney sweeps, and Dick Van Dyck playing a one-man-band. It’s interesting to see how the reality of a place lives up to one’s imagination. Amidst the euphoria of my very first overseas trip, there was a sobering lesson to learn. Travel does not complete you as a person. It does not make you more important, it’s not the consummate experience of all mankind. If I’d stayed in little Wollongong and never seen Big Ben, I would have no more excuse not to be compassionate and broadminded. That said, in God’s kindness I had a wonderful time. Years of watching As Time Goes By had me equally enthralled by Sainsbury’s and Marks and Spencer as I was by anything else. Highlights included a walking tour of the changing of the guard (running alongside the guards was great fun), The V&A, Harrods and of course, Liberty. There was no Dick Van Dyck, but there were definitely pigeons.

About Me

A girl with a camera, a toddler and a sewing machine. Making sense of Germany... and life in general.

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I Make…

Handmade Baby Shorts in Liberty's 'Cordelia'

Handmade Necklace in 'Fairford' $21

Handmade Bead Necklace in 'Wiltshire' $21

Handmade Bracelet in 'Fairford' $15

I Took The Handmade Pledge!