Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Travelling again...

Guess where we have been this time !

another clue....
Yup, we've been staying with our lovely friends Inki & Toine in Maastricht - or more precisely in Landgraaf.   We go there every year - George used to work with Toine and we have known them for many many years .  The weather was kind and we did lots of exciting and interesting things - even though we have been there so often we still find fresh things to see and do.  We always have to  go into Maastricht - such a civilised town - and the smartest street is Stokstraat where I spotted this very stylish dress shop where  all the models had their skirts hitched up like riding habits.

Opposite that is one of my favourite florist shops - walk through the shop to the back and there is this smart selection of garden ornaments.  And of course I had to go to a garden centre!  We were going to a  
party later that day so I bought flowers for the hostess....

and we had to pay another visit to the historic Dominicanerkerk - an ex Dominican church which has been turned into a fascinating bookshop.  The cleverly converted 800 year old church retains its dignity

and is really impressive and there is a huge section of English literature.  There is also a coffeehouse  there and it is a popular meeting place for young and old alike.  I feel as if I am writing a travel brochure-  but I am passionate about Limbourg!    We went to visit the Textile Museum  in Tilburg, housed in an old woollen mill.  This is both a museum and an exhibition space and a learning centre.   Both George and Toine spent a lifetime with textiles and were fascinated by this woven cloth -  very difficult to see where the repeat comes and one of the weavers told us that it was a difficult one to set up.  Some of the looms they are working on are two or three hundred years old.  I bought a cloth in this pattern.

Then another day we drove to Valkenburg where we had lunch at the very beautiful Chateau St Gerlach. Mussels - yummy - with chips served Belgian style in little paper cornets sitting in their own  wooden holders with mayonnaise at the side.
The Chateau has been very sympathetically restored as a five star hotel and, as well as looking round the pretty frescoes in St Gerlach's church we saw the display of sculpture in the grounds,
including this very wet looking cow - as you can see, by this time the weather had caved in and it was raining - so we went back to Landgraaf and sat & watched the DVD of Girl with the Dragon Tattoo - in Swedish with Dutch subtitles !!!  However, having read the books the characters were JUST as we had imagined them and we had no difficulty at all in following the action.
Home to Cambridge and a visit to Shakespeare's As You Like it in the the grounds of Trinity College - a picnic with more rain !!!  It was a delightful performance and the actors ploughed on manfully (and womanfully) to entertain us.   When we got home, DD1 and the two grandsons had arrived for the week and we packed a lot of visits and sightseeing in.   This is Jeremy James  in the Museum of London Docklands - if you haven't been there, do go.  It is most interesting and it was hard to tear  the boys away, although mention of lunch soon moved them.  When we arrived at Canary Wharf I had lost my bearings, but spotted two young policemen and asked them to point me in the right direction.  "I'll do better than that, madam, I'll take you there."  So off we set, me in the lead with one policeman then the other four and a policeman with a dog bringing up the rear.  The boys were very amused - they thought it looked as if we were being marched off for questioning.  Later we went to St Pauls then over the wobbly Millennium bridge to Tate Modern - the boys were NOT impressed by the art but loved the building!
So now they have all gone back and it seems as though the summer is over.  The garden is full of greengages and blackberries just asking to be made into jam, we cannot keep up with the tomatoes and beans,  the weeds are growing apace and there was a mountain of washing to tackle.  I haven't had time to any sewing or drawing, must try harder!

Saturday, 7 August 2010

A bone of contention !

This is a PILE
and this is   A   NOTHER    pile

who would think that an innocent thing like a pile of weeds could cause dissention in a marriage?  George doen't like my piles, but I say that if I didn't leave piles, he would never know just how much gardening I actually do!  Does that make sense?  It does to me.

In my own defence, I will say that if I go out on an Official Weed I use a trug for the weeds, but most of my weeding is unofficial, i.e. I go out to do something else and get distracted. I was checking on the greengages and spotted some phlox that needed to be cut down.   It is a bit late after all these years to hope that I will change, so there.   Anyway, my lovely Echinacea 'Green Envy'   is in bloom - isn't it glorious !
I'm off now to finish  a fruit salad for eight  - it has taken me ages  to cut up all the fruits and none out of the garden I am afraid.  The greengages are not ready nor are the blackberries and I'm not sharing my figs!   I'm just waiting for the  caustic comments about the piles when George comes in !  (He's a pussycat, really)

Thursday, 5 August 2010

FIG uratively speaking...

Just look what I picked today in my garden!   A beautiful plump,  ripe, juicy FIG.   And there are lots more on the tree. To think that for the better part of my life I thought I hated figs - and that was because my mother used to give me a dose of Syrup of Figs every Friday night when I was a child.  I hated it so much I turned my back on figs but oh, how different a ripe fig straight off the tree is from the sickly sweet syrup I remember.    I cut it in half and George and I  enjoyed it after dinner - one of our five a day.  And all five today came from the garden, tomatoes, runner beans and a handful of gooseberries cooked with a couple of fallen apples and served with a crumbled digestive biscuit and a spoonful of Greek yoghurt.  Yummy.
And following Gina's instructions in her Blog Drawing Tutorial I had coloured some pages in a sketchbook ages ago, having been told that was the way to overcome the terror of blank pages in a new sketch book.  Having painted them, I then did not know what to do with them!  But there they were, ready and waiting for a little painting done with a kebab stick dipped in bleach.
A couple of little chicks - in this case the early bird didn't get the worm .    And then a couple of aliums picked from the garden, it is  fascinating to watch the bleach taking effect, I know Gina said it would ruin a paintbrush but I bet you would get some better effects . I got a bit carried away with the daisies
Whilst I was painting the aliums, some hover wasps came into the conservatory and clustered around the flower head.  Notice my illicit Campari - I am on a promise to myself not to drink during the week, but it has been a hard day.
and I deserve it!

Sunday, 1 August 2010

A nice day out !

Today George and I went off to Audley End for the day.  It is on our doorstep, and when we first came to the area some 47 years ago we went several times with various visitors, but I don't think we have been for about 20 years (apart from the odd concert). The Telegraph were offering 'two for the price of one' to Telegraph Subscribers and as they were doing a Recreation this weekend we decided to go.  It is of course a lovely sight -

and when they are playing cricket  it just looks SO quintessentially English.  But this morning we headed for the kitchens, first the laundry rooms -

When we moved into Lordship Farm we found one of these dollies, exactly the same as this, and DD2 now keeps it in her ownstairs loo with toilet rolls on the handle!

I have to say that English Heritage have done a first class job with the films being shown on the walls, here showing a laundrymaid doing the ironing.  Life must have been so hard for those girls, up to their elbows in water with none of our easy washing powders and detergents. Then we saw the kitchens where they were recreating a meal from 1861, with a very stern cook directing the kitchen maids.  This reminded us that it ws time to go and have some lunch!

Then we attacked the house.  Very grand, and when it was built it was twice or three times the size it is now.  All the room stewards were very pleasant and happy to chat to us and we saw some portraits of George's Howard ancestors.......I think.      There is an enormouse collection of stuffed birds which made me feel a bit squeamish but it was amazing to get right up close to huge eagles with frighteningly sharp beaks.   But the little song bird were pathetic, I thought.  This is looking down into the main hall - I don't think I should have taken it but I truly did not see a sign saying no photography. 

This was a stable boy grooming Smiler, one of the good tempered horses they keep there and he was letting some of the children help him .    The 16th century stable block is delightful.    We walked round the kichen garden and into the glasshouses where we saw this lovely display of geraniums (or should I say pelargoniums)

Then we had a pot of tea and one piece of coffee cake between us (saving ourselves for dinner) and as we left for home the field behind the house was already packed with the picknicking audience for tonight's Prom in the Park.   It would have been nice to stay but it was getting very overcast so I think they were in for a chilly evening.   But we had a very pleasant Derby and Joan day out.