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Posts tagged bath abbey
Resolutely into the New Year...
 
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Resolutely into the New Year…

Happy New Year!

I’ve spent this morning removing the Christmas decorations and giving the house the first proper clean of the year. I’m never going to win prizes for my housekeeping skills, but I do like to start the year off with a good vacuuming and application of the duster. That’s all done now and the diffuser is serenely wafting a ‘festive season’ essential oil mix about, so I’m taking the opportunity to write before I settle down to serious afternoon stitchery.

A quick round up before cracking on…

I’m relieved to say that Christmas didn’t leave me frazzled this year. The Daughters were enormously helpful, really taking over a lot of the things that used to make me stressed, and to be honest, we all took things a little more gently this time.

For years now I’ve enjoyed a pre-Christmas visit to Bath, there’s something about it that puts me in a festive mood, even though I rarely do much (or any) shopping while we’re there.

Bath Abbey at night…

Bath Abbey at night…

Then, just before Christmas, we travelled west to meet up with my brother. We stopped on the way for a late afternoon wander around Gloucester Cathedral, one of the most exquisitely beautiful buildings in the country. If you want to see a few more pictures, have a look here.

More Tom Denny stained glass in Gloucester Cathedral…sighs…

More Tom Denny stained glass in Gloucester Cathedral…sighs…

We met up in Hay on Wye, so you won’t be surprised to hear that I came home loaded up with enough reading material to see me through to Easter.

Christmas passed off quietly. Much ringing of bells, considerable quantities of food consumed, the usual thing. The Delinquent Dog sported his festive bow-tie (kindly made by a ringing friend).

Who’s a handsome boy then?

Who’s a handsome boy then?

Between Christmas and New Year, the OH and I had a couple of days away in Ely to celebrate our wedding anniversary. I love Ely, and this was the first time I’d spent longer than a few hours in the town. Naturally we spent most of the time in the cathedral - visiting both towers and the stained glass museum, as well as all the rest of the amazing building. Again, if you’d like to see a few more photos of the Octagon Tower, click here.

And oh my word, what a town! The best haberdashery, at the back of a toy shop! And a Toppings bookshop - honestly, what more could you want!

A detail of a John Piper window in the Stained Glass Museum, Ely Cathedral. John PIper is my second favourite stained glass artist…x

A detail of a John Piper window in the Stained Glass Museum, Ely Cathedral. John PIper is my second favourite stained glass artist…x

And on our way home, we popped into Cambridge for a couple of hours. It’s not somewhere I know at all, having previously visited only once, on a bike, twenty three years ago. I was so terrified, I didn’t remember a thing. This time I decided to embrace my inner tourist and take photos of as many college gates as I could. They’re over here if you want to see them.

Is this the most cliched view of Cambridge? I think it may be…

Is this the most cliched view of Cambridge? I think it may be…

Onwards Chaps!

And so here we are, 2019 and raring to go (well, ish).

I’m not only a poor housekeeper, I’m also a New Year Resolution refusenik. Or at least I thought I was.

But part of recovering my spirits has been a realisation that I’m actually happier when I have some structure in place. Not, I hasten to add, any kind of rigid commitment, but when I have something to drive me forward, I seem to do better.

So this year, in a radical departure from most previous Januarys, I’ve given myself some - well, let’s not call them by the ‘r’-word - let’s call them bones. They are the bones of a structure, which, if I can maintain it, should at least prevent me from falling into the ‘what shall I do, what am I here for’ kind of slough.

In my previous incarnation, my specialist super-skill was planning, and so it can be a bit too easy for me to make plans. The problem is, can I actually bring them off, can I take the necessary actions? Well, I don’t think the first week in January is the time to decide, but I have taken the advice of Gretchen Rubin and scheduled some key points. At least now I’ll know if I’m on track or falling behind.

We’ll see how it goes. Part of me is always aware of the old saying about if you want to make the gods laugh, tell them your plans. But without some bones, there’s the danger of drift, and that’s what I want to avoid at the moment. So I’m risking it.

One of the things I’m planning, is to write an e-book on stitch. Back in the summer, just before the hair decided it had had enough and would rapidly fall out, I’d begun working on a workshop programme. The whole hair episode massively derailed progress on that, but lately I’ve been getting back into the swing and over and over I keep thinking I should start by writing the book, then condense that into something practical. In a way I think I need to do it this way round to help me clarify my own thoughts before I try to explain them to other people, if I don’t I’m afraid I’ll keep going off on ‘or you could try it this way’ tangents, which I think would become deeply frustrating.

The other thing I’m properly planning, is to resume ‘Loose Threads’. I apologise to all of you who’ve been kind enough to subscribe. I know you’ll understand that 2018 was a daft old year of stuff that just made life too much of a roller-coaster to concentrate effort there, and I’ve always been determined that it would never be something I sent out unless it was at least partly worth reading. But my aim in 2019 is to send out ‘Loose Threads’ about four times, roughly at the equinoxes and solstices. Thanks to everyone who’s patiently waiting.

And what about the stitch?

Well, in my last post, I mentioned the piece I was working on and the one that hadn’t come together.

A detail from the finished piece - possibly to be called ‘Merlin’.

A detail from the finished piece - possibly to be called ‘Merlin’.


And oddly enough, I did persevere with the large piece and guess what? It did work in the end. I just kept adding stitches until at some point it tipped over from the ugh? to the ahhh! In my mind, I’m calling it Merlin - that might be it’s title when I show it later in the year at The Workhouse. Merlin is one of the most enigmatic characters in the Arthurian legends, and I won’t claim to have done more than scratch the surface of reading about his mythology, but magic is purple and sparkly in my head, and so is this piece. It’s a start.

So, it’s early days. New beginnings, new challenges, but always stitch.

May your New Year be blessed, peaceful and happy.

Anny x

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Feeling the energy...

Well what a week! Thank you to everyone who's followed me over here from Dreaming In Stitches, I really appreciate that very much indeed. And a huge welcome to the new readers who've found your way here too - welcome. 

early elderberries

After all the excitement of going live with A Stitchery Spellbook last weekend I was half expecting this week to be a return to something less frantic, I had a mental image of wafting about in a clean tidy home, scented with fresh laundry and sitting down to stitch with a vaguely beatific smile on my face.  Which as you can imagine isn't exactly what happened. Instead the pile of domestic stuff which I'd probably been ignoring for a bit too long decided to gang up on me and pounce - but anyway, here I am, trying to regain my rhythm and to settle back into what I've occasionally laughingly called my routine....

In the lane...

While I've been out walking the dog this week, it's really struck me how the energy of spring has now given way to something different, something slower and more introspective. The showy blossom season has passed and now we're beginning to see the fruits appear. The energy which was so palpable has turned inwards and it's harder to connect with it as we walk along the lane every morning.

Looking closely it's surely going to be a wonderfully abundant autumn. I've got my eyes on the sloes (so long as I can afford a couple of bottles of gin to pop them in), and judging from the cascades of tiny bullet-hard blackberries that are starting to form, there will be ample blackberry and apple pies this year. But there are also masses of elderberries on their way, acorns aplenty, haws, hips and crab apples by the bucket load and best of all, hazelnuts.

And these are just the things I can spot and know what to do with. I imagine any naturalist worth their salt could easily add to this list of foods for free.

But for all that, the feeling I have in the lane at the moment is almost tiredness. It's not the first time I've experienced this, to me it seems as if all that effort during spring has left it exhausted. Now it's conserving itself, pouring it's energy into the fruits with little left to dazzle the daily dog walker as she ambles past.

Well, that's as it should be. We're all creatures of cycles and rhythms and there are times when we sparkle and times when we just trudge on. The thing is to recognise that and not to fight against it. Sometimes you have to let things roll, put your energies into the place they need to be.

Over the last few years of walking this route every day I've begun to feel these patterns as they happen and now it's much less of a worry than it first felt, now I think I'm beginning to learn to roll with the rhythms too.

In the frame

I'd have to admit that my stitching rhythm's been a bit off lately too. I've been working on this latest Rose Window inspired piece and although there are aspects of it that I'm enjoying, I can't say that I've entirely bonded with it yet. From past experience I know this isn't necessarily a problem, some pieces don't reveal themselves until you've committed quite a lot of work, nevertheless, I can't decide how this one really feels at the moment.

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What I'm learning from these Rose Windows is that there is something hypnotic about the shape, and whilst the gothic windows which inspire them are perfectly symmetrical, I rather like bending them, twisting them a little and introducing some leafy curves or petal shapes. It is confined within a circle, a repeated segmentation, but each part is unique. I'm already thinking about the next one - which might be part of the problem - but I'll stay with this one for now and see where we go.

Old Places...

I thought this week was going to be gallivanting-free and devoid of old places but on Monday evening the OH asked if I fancied going with him to Bath again the next day and so off we went at crack of dawn on Tuesday. This time I have to admit my main preoccupation was with books - I may have re-homed a few more, which of course is merely a public service. One of the books I came home with is The Secret Lives of Colour by Kassia St Clair. Did you hear excerpts on Radio 4 a couple of weeks ago? Well it's brilliant, buy a hard copy if you're in the smallest bit interested in colours.

(The others (ahem, several in fact) I'll tell you about another day).

To be honest I didn't really do much heritage-wandering on Tuesday apart form the inevitable gazing about that you always do in Bath without even thinking about it. The rain had kept the crowds back down by the Abbey so I took a few pictures of the Abbey front. It's a bit later than many medieval cathedrals, dating from about 1520 and unusually features angels ascending Jacob's Ladder. 

And so there you have it. A week of trying to get back into a routine and not entirely succeeding, but that's alright, I'm going with the flow. Hope you are too. Do you have any tips for riding the ups and downs of energy levels? I feel that women of a certain age are probably the world experts on energy levels, but that's another story.


As always, you'll find me on Instagram and Twitter most days, it would be lovely to hear from you there or here anytime. 

Happy stitching x

An Alternative Tour Around Bath

 Well another busy week under the belt. I did manage one little history-junkie’s treat this week but I’m going to save that for another day, instead I thought we’d go on an alternative tourist-cum-shopping trip around my favourite town in England - Bath.

Now Bath is one of those towns whose history goes back to pre-Roman times and where heritage drips from every street corner. I’m lucky to be able to go a few times each year and spend a day wandering around the streets, doing the whole tourist bit and generally enjoying the atmosphere.

I’m going to assume that if you went you’d be similarly bowled over by all the gorgeous Georgianess everywhere, so I’m not going to dwell on that - let’s just agree that this is actually the best bit and it’s the scene-setting for the following suggestions.

Oh and before I start, if it is your first visit to Bath, you simply have to see the main attractions - go straight to the Roman Baths and get in the queue, then pop over to the Abbey and then leg it up to the Assembly Rooms and then up again to the Royal Crescent via the Circus.

But if you’ve done those before and you have a few hours to spare - this is what I’d do.

Country Threads

I’d pop into Country Threads in Pierrepont Place down near the railway station. This little shop has quite possibly the best collection of printed cottons you could ask for. I regularly spend a small fortune in there and I don’t even quilt. Be warned, time can go strangely quirky in there - remember British Rail time…

Guildhall Market

Next I’d walk up to Bath’s Guildhall Market. Inside there are about 20 different stalls including two that I always make a point of visiting - Skoobs Bookstall, which has every second hand book you ever wanted (well ok, maybe an exaggeration, but they are seriously good, especially if you’re looking for series of books. My OH is working his way through the Patrick O’Brian’s at the moment and I’ve had no end of detective fiction from there - and the other must-see for me is Not Cartiers, which has so much bling it will make your eyes water, but you’ll be crying with happiness when you spot the prices. It’s a little jewellery cavern, twinkling with diamanté and I defy you not to fall in love with something small and shiny.

Pulteney Bridge

Once I’ve managed to tear myself away from the market I’d probably be looking for lunch. The Bridge Cafe on Pulteney Bridge has the advantage of windows overlooking the weir - and last time I went, they made an excellent cheese salad sandwich. (This isn't really a general recommendation, it's just that finding a decent cheese salad sandwich can be quite a challenge and I was delighted to have a freshly made one here on my last visit)

Topping

Fortified with tea and cake I’d leg it up to Toppings bookshop at The Paragon. Bookshop again I hear you shout - well yes, nothing at all wrong with spending all day doing a bookshop crawl (ahem, Hay-on-Wye - just saying)…

The Fashion Museum

Then I’d stroll along, detouring to walk past the Assembly Rooms. If you have time, the Fashion Museum under the Assembly Rooms is a real treat, both for the clothes which are fascinating, but also because they let you dress up (and we’re not just talking children here - they positively encourage us grown-ups todress up too! Do it, I promise it will make you laugh, but only go if you have time, it isn’t cheap and you’ll want to stay and have fun.

The Royal Crescent

After that walk along to the Royal Crescent. There’s something so ostentatious and at the same time so restrained about the Royal Crescent, I can’t make my mind up about it and you really do have to pay homage to the architects at least once on your visit. Still, you get to peep in through the windows and wonder about what it’s like living inside.

Victoria Park

My next stop would depend on whether the family were with me or not. If they were, we’d undoubtedly be going to play a round of crazy golf at the Victoria Falls Crazy Golf course in Victoria Park. This has become a family tradition, something we do whatever the weather (and yes, even torrential rain can’t stop us). You may not feel a similar need, I absolutely understand.

The Georgian Garden

Alternatively on the other side of the road is a little gateway at the back of some townhouses which takes you to the Georgian Garden - and it proves that there is beauty in small packages. Pop in there instead for a moment or two of calm.

Bath Abbey

Afterwards I’d make my way back into the centre of town and stroll around the Abbey. This is a beautiful building from every angle. If the tower is open go up and see the city from up there, it’s quite something.

And after all that you'll have earned yourself an ice-cream at the very least!

And there we have it, a wonky circuit of sorts. A mixture of mildly eccentric shops set in a glorious creamy Georgian dreamworld - or so it seems to me.

I’d love to know what are your Bath highlights. Which places do you always visit and why. Hopefully I’ll be back again during the summer, so any suggestions gratefully received.

Oh and just so you know, there are public toilets down near Debenhams (modern and generally acceptable), just past Waitrose (a bit dodgy looking but generally ok) and over at the Pavillion in Victoria Park. Plus of course pubs etc.