Tuesday, 3 December 2019

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like ..........

Apologies in advance for a rather photo-heavy post! Happy Advent, everyone. Our neighbours have had their Christmas tree up since November 7th (!) but, in true Grinchy style, I'm resisting the urge for another couple of weeks. My one concession is the Advent candle which we bought at Winchester Cathedral recently.That's not to say that there hasn't been a fair bit of Festive crafting going on. So much so, that I'm beginning to slightly regret our intention to do second hand / homemade Christmas - although I'm desperate to know what R has planned; there's talk of wood being needed! I also have a yarny Advent Calendar which I'm feeling a tad guilty about as I ordered it at the start of the year before we had decided on our low key Christmas. I'm valiantly overcoming my guilty conscience, however, and forcing myself to open it! ☺

Here then are the photos to remind myself of the run up to Christmas 2019: 

Using up the last bit of my upholstery fabric from the Ally Pally to cover our old piano stool. I'm rather fond of the stool as we bought it on holiday in Cornwall many moons ago. It has seen 2 daughters through to Grade 8, however, and was beginning to look rather the worse for wear. Here's the before picture..........
 ......................... and the after:
 It's not the most professional looking upholstery job, but it is less threadbare and I think it looks a bit jollier.
Fingerless mitts for R (it's OK, he never reads my blog!). R works from home on Fridays and is always complaining that the house is too cold during the day. The plan is that he can use these as he types on the computer!
A winter picnic at Farleigh Hungerford Castle (English Heritage again!):
This was a fortified mansion with a bit of a grisly past. Walter Hungerford imprisoned his wife in the Lady Tower and tried to poison her. She only survived because the locals smuggled food to her in a basket lowered out of the window. The tower was destroyed on Bonfire Night many years later. Local children set off fireworks which set light to the ivy covering the tower. It turned out that the ivy was the only reason that the tower was still standing!
The chapel, complete with mural of St. George discovered in 1844:
Rare lead anthropomorphic coffins in the crypt:
Popping into Bradford on Avon on the way home, we treated ourselves to a slice of vegan lemon drizzle cake and a pot of tea in the local tearoom. If you get the chance, do pop in - the beautiful building, real fires, classical music and waitresses in full costume make it a tearoom to remember:
Downstairs was packed, so we went upstairs and bagged a table. We were lucky as that soon filled up too.

An evening at the theatre seeing Gryff Rhys Jones. I went with some trepidation expecting an evening of political comments (and we go out to get away from all that at the moment!) but he was brilliant. Great comedy as he told us all about his Bucket List activities, and barely a whiff of politics. He's also a keen gardener and his garden recently appeared on a programme about Alan Titchmarsh's favourite gardens. I'm now a real fan!
A trip to Winchester, where we bought our Advent Candle in the Cathedral shop, had lunch at an excellent veggie / vegan cafe and then nosed round the best book shop in the city.
Set over 3 floors with creaky stairs and floorboards, the smell of books hits you as you enter - you don't get that with a Kindle! We spent a merry hour browsing before buying L a first edition of Wodehouse's 'Eggs, Beans and Crumpets' for her birthday - she's a huge P. G. Wodehouse fan. The best bit was when we went to pay. The owner pulled out a huge leather bound ledger and a fountain pen and noted the date, title and price before carefully wrapping the book in a stripy paper bag. We're definitely going back!
Meeting my friend, S, at Westonbirt Arboretum to see the autumn colours. We took the free guided tour and learned a lot.

A fused glass workshop at the local museum. This was a bit of a disaster. We carefully cut out our glass and decorations ......... then the tutor told us to transfer them on to a piece of paper and place them in named plastic bags! Well, the carefully cut and arranged pieces scattered everywhere! That was before she had to transport them home to the kiln. We had to draw and label sketches of our pieces to go in the bags - presumably so she could reassemble our bags of bits before firing! I'll let you know if she was successful when we get them back!
Here are my attempts after the bits moved!:

Making silk painted Christmas cards:
Meeting L and E in London for L's birthday. We did presents and cake in the morning and then went here for a yummy birthday lunch:
Clearing out one of the cupboards, I discovered a bag of scraps of Stylecraft DK yarn, left over from when I had a blanket crocheting phase a few years ago. I decided to use them all up in a granny square blanket for use in Bridget the Midget. It does get rather chilly round the old knees at this time of year! I think it may have to wait until after Christmas now though as I'm using my yarn from my Advent calendar in my Cosy Memory Blanket and then the leftovers in a scrappy Granny Stripe blanket. Too many blankets?
A  trip to The American Museum in Bath. I've wanted to go here for years and we finally got around to visiting last weekend. I can recommend it highly - the house has a fine collection of old quilts, American Folk Art, reconstructed rooms and a fascinating section on American Indians. After lunch in the cafe with spectacular views, we took a walk in the gardens and visited the craft fair and a reconstruction of scenes from the book ''Twas the Night Before Christmas' for children. I loved it all and we plan to return in the summer with a picnic.

My favourite painting was by Grandma Moses, who only began painting in earnest at 78 - there's hope for us all!
I loved the crazy quilting:
Look! Those 'paper' chains are actually knitted! You can hear R groaning now!

Day 1 of my Advent Calendar by Felt Fusion:
The Cosy Memory Blanket:
Having fun with felt:
More fingerless mitts - the colour isn't showing up very well in the photo - they are actually teal:
Lastly, attending another macrame workshop. To ring the changes, I thought I'd try a wall hanging. I'm not sure whether to unravel more of the bits at the bottom and then trim them to a shorter fringe. All opinions welcome. Sadly, I didn't actually think it through - I've nowhere really to hang it, so, for the time being, it's on the back of the downstairs loo door!

Well, that's all for the moment. I'm just off to make some Festive Chutney - bit last minute really as it needs to mature. Enjoy Advent and if anyone has any quick and easy homemade Christmas ideas, please let me know.
Toodle pip for now. x


  1. I’ve had to lie down after looking and reading about all your doings. Sounds like you’ve been very busy. Love the glass work. Hope it comes together ok. Like the idea of a yarn advent calendar. Will have to get one for next year. Enjoy the build up to Christmas. B x

  2. What a lovely post, I'm familiar with quite a few of the places you went, including Farleigh Hungerford where I saw a falconry display around the ruined castle, which was lovely. I haven't been to that bookshop in Winchester though, I am making a note to visit soon. I saw Gryff Rhys Jones's garden, brilliant. Glad the evening was good fun. CJ xx

  3. So many lovely things to comment on! I love your stained glass but I did laugh at the thought of having to put your carefully arranged decorations in a plastic bag!! I went to the American museum when I was a student at Bath and loved the quilts, so inspiring. I'd like another visit to appreciate them some more.

    By the way, I'm going to be posting on my blog about my weekly raffle so if anything catches your eye, you can buy your virtual raffle ticket (£1= 1 ticket, £2=2 and so on) by clicking through to the link to my Just Giving page. The raffle will only run for one day - Sunday - each week.

    Enjoy the rest of your Advent crafting. xx

  4. Love the piano stool fabric you have chosen. You've been a busy bee again! Would love to see Gryff Rhys Jones. Really like your silk painted Christmas cards too. I recognise some of those buildings on the left one ;-)
    PS. I often want to reply to your lovely comments, but your blogger comment is "no reply" and you have no email address posted here. If you ever feel like contacting me on my email button on my blog, that would be the way for me to be able to reply to you :)

  5. Love the green mittons! Also like the glass Christmas tree! Have a wonderful week.

  6. You have some lovely completed projects here, there's no stopping you! I love your piano stool, glass art and silk painted Christmas cards!Lucky you getting out to such lovely places, Hungerford castle is wonderful, fancy ivy burning the tower down!!! I'd love to see Griff and visit that tearoom! Oh....you have me yearning for Mildred's! Happy birthday to L!xxx

  7. You are brilliant with all your makes and visits too. I'm sorry I've been absent for ages but it's a joy to have a read through and catch up with you. That bookshop in Winchester is a fantastic place isn't it? I've bought things from there in the past but really I just love browsing there. There used to be a similar one in Tunbridge Wells. Tell R I also wear fingerless mittens when working at home- they are fab, and will be all the more nice as you made them for him xx

  8. Oh, I've enjoyed this! So many of my favorite things in one post (lemon drizzle cake!). You are certainly making the most of the holiday season.

  9. I would be in heaven in the Winchester Book Shop. After several days they might have to send a search party to look for me.

  10. What a good post! I would LOVE a slice of that lemon drizzle cake. The fingerless mitts are really nice. I can't decide if I like the green pair or the blue best.