Tuesday, 17 April 2018

The 'Tapestry', the Mosaic and the Greenhouse

Hello again. I hope that everyone had a wonderful Easter break even if, like here, the weather left much to be desired. L and E have both gone back now, so once again the house seems unnaturally quiet. I have to keep reminding myself that in a week's time I will be used to it again, otherwise I could easily fall into a slough of despond.
There have been a few highlights over the past couple of weeks: I took advantage of the one sunny day and sowed all my seeds in the greenhouse. I did a one day mosaic course in Oxford, and R, E and I took a trip to Reading Museum to see their copy of the Bayeux Tapestry.
The trip was E's idea. She is currently studying the Norman Conquest as one of her uni options and has to write an essay on the tapestry. Many years ago, R, L (then aged 2) and I were lucky enough to see the original during a holiday in France. I confess that I can't remember much about it - probably owing to the fact that I was looking after a 2 year old and my attention was elsewhere! I heard on the radio that the original is coming to the UK in the near future, so I'm sure that we will be paying it a visit. Until then, however, the Reading version was a good substitute.
According to E, most books/articles on the Bayeux tapestry begin with the same fact: that it isn't in fact a tapestry, it's an embroidery. The original was made by English embroiderers in Kent in the late 11th century, and the Reading copy was made over the course of a year (1885-6) by members of the Leek Embroidery Society in Staffordshire. The 35 members, thinking that England should have its own copy, worked from photographs. They used wool dyed to match the original 8 colours and each 'signed' their own section once complete.
The tapestry was also mentioned recently in the first episode of the BBC's  'Cunk on Britain'  - very amusing, especially the bit about Hill Filth!
Anyway, here are a few photos:
Turold was the medieval equivalent of a graffiti artist, adding an image of himself and his name to the tapestry. Now that requires more dedication that a can of spray paint!

There was actually a talk on the tapestry on the day we visited, but by that time we were desperate for some lunch and, given that we had our own little Bayeux expert with us to guide us round, we decided to give it a miss. Wagamama was very nice!

The mosaic course was my the second workshop chosen to replace my cancelled birthday painting course. It was held in the artist's home - a beautiful house with stunning views in Oxford. The studio was in fact a sun room, and after setting off from home in fog, the mists cleared halfway up the A34 and it was glorious sitting there in the sunshine, peacefully cutting tiles. The teacher, C, and other people attending were a joy, and lunch was yummy. She had even made a vegan fruit cake!

 C's home was filled with beautiful examples of her work:

More tiles and bits of broken crockery etc than you could shake a stick at!
Most people attending were there for 2 days. I was just doing the one, so was a little limited as to what I could achieve in that time. I had initially wanted to do a chicken but it was deemed too ambitious for 1 day (maybe next time!), so I settled on a dragonfly. Here it is before grouting:
...... and after:
We had been encouraged to take in any special bits that we wanted to include. The only piece I took, was the little bit at the end of the tail. My girls found it whilst digging in the veggie patch many years ago, and it had been sitting in a bowl with other bits of 'treasure' ever since. I added pieces of a broken cup to complete the body. Looking at it objectively, the body should be longer and the head smaller, but I'm pleased with it and we can always just call it folk art!

Other happies:
Meeting an old school friend, Z, in London for a catch up. Z was running a little late and suggested that we meet in the Renaissance Hotel at St. Pancras. Had I known that that's where we would end up, I would have dressed somewhat smarter! Arriving first, I sat in the cafe in the atrium and was immediately attended by a waiter. Having said that I was waiting for someone, he thought it best to refer my attention to the sign which said that there was a minimum spend of £14 per person. Obviously, in my jeans and trainers I looked too tramp-like to be able to afford the prices! When Z arrived, we moved to the other cafe in the hotel (no minimum spend!) and ordered lunch. It was delicious and the staff couldn't have been nicer or more helpful - vegan choices were slim on the ground, so they actually made me my own roasted tomato and basil soup. 
Making the most of a sunny day:
My sowed seeds. Trying to use up some 'about to expire' Tesco vouchers, I bought a subscription to the Kitchen Garden magazine. Each edition comes with 3 free packets of seeds, so I am branching out in the veggies I am trying to grow this year. Aubergine anyone?
My Easter Sunday cast on - Stephen West's Dotted Rays Shawl in Malabrigo's  Piedras colourway:
A quick pair of fingerless mitts. At Christmas I made some gloves for L's  boyfriend, J. He loves the colour purple and, as my hands are much smaller than his, there was just enough yarn left over for a pair for me. They even match my leggings!
Well. that's it for now. There is more sunny weather forecast for this week, so as today is a little overcast I'm just off into town to get a few errands done. Then tomorrow, it's garden here I come!
Whatever you have planned this week, have fun.

Toodle pip for now. x


  1. I've seen the tapestry in France too and thought how wonderful and amazing it is. I have to say I'm very worried about it being moved, something so old, and I'm not sure why the powers that be think it's a good idea? The replica you saw looks amazing. I love the medieval graffiti artist!

    As always, I'm impressed and in awe with your knitting skills. Loved the dragonfly too- how special to have that little bit in the tail.

    You did make me smile about the jeans and trainers- my constant uniform, when I'm not in running kit :o)

    Here's to the promised sunshine xx

  2. You had me laughing with your hotel visit. Don’t we all live in our jeans these days, it’s a real struggle to dress up although worth it when you do.

    We visited the real tapestry in Bayeaux too when our boys were younger. I remember thinking how exquisite the work was but rather shocked at how narrow it was. Seeing it only in books I’d imagined it much larger.

    I’m very envious of your mosaic course something I’d love to do. At college my dissertation was about Roman mosaics so I know a thing or two about tesserae lol!

    Loving the knitting, gorgeous colour and lucky that there was enough wool to make a pair for you. B x

  3. Your mosaic is beautiful, I would love to do something like that!

  4. Such an interesting update, as always! The copy of the Bayeux Tapestry looks great. You mosaic looks wonderful too. Glad you enjoyed making it.
    Thanks for stopping by my blog this morning. Your tale of the Picasso museum made me giggle. We all went last summer. I insisted my family join me for ONE art museum during the trip and the Picasso museum was free for the kids, so that was the one to go to. They were intrigued... I wouldn't go as far to say that they enjoyed it. I LOVED it!

  5. I was laughing at the hotel visit too, I'd have been in the same boat! You have been having an interesting, cultural time of late! Love your dragonfly, lovely to have a tale re the tail, so too speak!I just love sowing seeds, but get frustrated by how long they take to come up, then of course, they all come up together! Love those mitts, wish I had them, it's taken another cold turn here.xxx

  6. The tapestry is incredible and I love the dragon fly mosaic!