Friday, 8 May 2015

A new interest - week 1

I wouldn't call it a hobby yet, it may become one, but it's started out as something different to do on Thursday evenings which may be useful in the future.
The other side effect of it is that in the office at work it gives us something to discuss which isn't, marking, problems, lack of funding, student numbers, etc.
I've started going to Floral Design classes with Gayle and Charmian who I work with. I think we're all enjoying it but finding it challenging in different ways: being students instead of teachers, the cost of everything each week, trying to squeeze in trips to all of the supermarkets to find nice, inexpensive flowers and most of all raiding for foliage, endless, mammoth amounts of foliage are needed for floral design as opposed to floristry. In fact it's the most frequently heard cry from the students each week "oh I haven't got enough foliage". Last week I even raided the bin at one point in my quest. 
Oh what I'd give for a Eucalyptus tree!
The challenge for week 1 was to produce a Symmetrical triangular design from a bunch of roses and lisianthus and some foliage. Some of you may spot a very beautiful carnation (not a description I usually use of one of my least favourite flowers, but in this case totally warranted) in the center. The tutor had bought a few extra flowers to help us out at the start.
Anyway this is what I produced:
In the classroom
On display in my hall, don't you love my shabby chic effect wall which is waiting to be wallpapered.
Gayle's display
Charmian's display
After a week and a half some of my flowers were starting to look very much worse for wear so I decided to give it a revamp and here's how it looked after the metamorphosis

Saturday, 8 November 2014

Hendrik Kerstens

Somehow today while wandering through Pinterest I linked to the work of Hendrik Kerstens which I've seen before and loved. So I thought I'd post some images of a few pieces of his beautiful work. 



Sunday, 27 April 2014

Wedding haircut and dress hunt

Alex had her hair chopped on Good Friday by Steve at Koko. I've followed Steve to various hairdressers and now he co-owns his own salon in Guildford. It's a great place stylish yet friendly with lovely staff and vintage tea sets. You never quite know what you may encounter, sometimes they have cake, sometimes live music. Whatever though you know you'll come out with a smile and a great hair cut, even if mine doesn't always last just the way Steve styled it!
Anyway because Alex now felt ready she wanted to try on some dresses. Wedding dress shopping and Easter don't mix. I researched a few places she could try to go to - be warned Guildford isn't the place to do wedding dress shopping. The selection seems to be Debenhams or Suzanne Neville, not much for a city like Guildford me thinks. The Debenhams dresses seem to be covered in bling which is good if that's what you want, but Alex is in more of a lace frame of mind at the moment. Suzanne Neville was closed, but even worse, had a very tempting reduced rail which we could just make out through the window. So close and yet so far!
Sparkle and frills from Berketex

Leading Lady from Suzanne Neville

Classique from Suzanne Neville
So I widened my Internet search to the surrounding areas and came up with Deja Vu just outside Guildford which was also closed that week and Miss Bush Bridalwear at Ripley which has some beautiful dresses on their website but you guessed it was also closed on Good Friday. I don't blame people, after all I had the day off from work too.
Miss Bush carry ranges by Tara Keely, Maggie Sottero, Jenny Packham and Jesus Piero among others.
Tara Keely

Maggie Sottero

A little different for Jenny Packham
Classic lines from Jesus Piero
Well that was Guildford done so now we're moving further afield. There looks to be a nice shop in Winchester which we may visit Brides of Winchester and another in Alresford The White House and of course there is the local shop Amaryllis, but I know Alex also wants to take her bridesmaids and go to the new bridal shop David's in Westfield Stratford City.
However our first expedition (tissues at the ready) will be this Friday when we're going with her gran and aunt to Shropshire County Brides where my mum bought her mother of the bride outfit for my brother's wedding a couple of years ago.

Hopefully something can be found
This is all getting very real now!

Sunday, 6 April 2014

The Wedding Season has started

A couple of months ago Alex and John gave us some of the best news. John proposed the week before Valentine's day and Alex of course said yes.
Now there's no stopping us (I have to keep reminding myself that it's John and Alex's wedding) going into full wedding planning mode.
After looking at all of those wedding sites which give guidance on budgets it's going to be what they want rather than whatever the 'wedding planners' say it should be.
The first things on their list was to get the wedding and venue sorted out. Getting the church organised was very easy and they had a lovely meeting with the vicar on a beautiful sunny afternoon.
Now onto the reception venue. Not so easy. There are so many choices but Alex and John were determined that one thing they didn't want to change on their wish list was to have a barn with as much freedom to do things their way as possible. They wanted somewhere which would be suitable for a reception for about 80 with about 120 in the evening. Their other requirement was to be able to provide an informal meal rather than a traditional 3 course wedding breakfast and to have a desert table provided by themselves and some friends and relations.
Alex's favourite venue when first looking at the internet was The Clock Barn, Whitchurch but the cost of that ruled it out. Another favourite venue locally is Bury Court Barn, Bentley. A&J decided not to look at this because they took weeks to reply to their enquiry and by then they knew this was a venue which didn't give you access the day before to decorate unless there was no wedding booked for that day.
A list of possible venues, including barns which would be their ideal and a range of venues which didn't instantly appeal but may be suitable were visited. I was lucky enough to be able to tag along as the driver.
The 1st visit was to The Long Barn, Newton Valence. This has a beautiful setting and is lovely, but perhaps a little too large for A&J. Also the only option for catering was 1 supplier who wasn't flexible about any food supplied by others.

Then it was off to The Tithe Barn near Petersfield. This is an amazing space, almost like a cathedral rather than a normal barn but it's a true business set up rather than a personal space. There's no guarantee of having access to the barn the day before or after so it is expected that you pay your florists to decorate in the morning and that you tidy everything away in the evening to collect early the next morning. Not the relaxed ideal A&J wanted.

There was also a visit to Bonhams Barn, Holybourne which is very local and has one event per weekend. But A&J didn't know if it was right for them as if they hired this it was towards the top end of their budget so it needed to be perfect. They didn't know why but knew they needed to look at more places.

The last barn to look at was Pitt Hall Barn near Basingstoke. They both loved this venue and found it very easy to talk to the owner who was very open to their suggestions. It's a family business and so is flexible in the approach to what the bride and groom require. They also only do one wedding each weekend so you have full access the day before and after.

A&J felt Pitt Hall was a real contender and the owner couldn't have been more helpful with trying to make the cost fit their budget but they were both worried that if they booked either Pitt Hall or Bonhams that they would use up too much of their budget. So we researched other venues which were not the first to crop up on google searches.
Two locations which may be possibilities were found and contacted. Details of requirements were sent and eventually a reply was received from Mellow Farm which felt as though it is set out in the wilds of nowhere, but wasn't really. It was smaller than the other venues looked at and slightly less 'posh' but could be very lovely. But when A&J were talking about access the day before, ie Thursday as they wanted to have their wedding on a Friday the owner told them he didn't have weddings on Fridays. It would have been useful if this had been put in his reply to A&J's original email which had said they wanted a Friday wedding as they had waited 2 weeks to visit. That may not seem long, but in this wedding planning business 2 weeks can easily be the difference between getting the venue and date you want and having to change things.

They had also tried hard to contact Gilbert White's House, Selbourne but hadn't heard anything. We decided to just drop in and it transpired the event organiser had been on holiday for the last few weeks which is why they hadn't heard anything. The staff were lovely and gave us free access to the museum and gardens so we could wander up to the barn, although they couldn't see inside because they only open it for 'viewing' days. They were also shown the wedding albums and met with the events organiser who was just back from her holiday and obviously very busy. It's a lovely setting and the gardens are beautiful but it is in Selbourne so there seemed there would be restrictions and rules which didn't fit with the atmosphere they wanted to create. If you live in this area you may realise that Selbourne is beautiful but it has the feel of a place which likes its rules and regulations.

Finally a decision was made and Bonhams Barn has been booked, deposit paid and date set for August 2014.
Now what happens next, oh well I'm sure Alex has an app to organise her.

Saturday, 21 December 2013

Isabella Blow at Somerset House

There is an absolute must see show on at Somerset House at the moment for anyone with the slightest interest in fashion, textile techniques, iconic imagery, etc. In my opinion it's the best show they have put on for a long time. You can get up close and personal with fashion and hat designs from some of the true greats.: Philip Tracy, Alexander McQueen, John Galliano, Mr Pearl, Shaun Leane, the list goes on and on. Along with this, there is interesting information and film about her life, from her early years up to the end. You also get a chance to see graduadtion shows from McQueen and Galliano.
At the end you will find fabulous books as usual, but also stunning posters and postcards photographed by Nick Knight.

Thursday, 31 October 2013


Alex and I are just back from a short trip to Antwerp. It's a strange city, on Monday and Tuesday it almost seemed as though we were the only visitors. Look how empty the Grote Markt was.

But on Wednesday it was busy, busy, busy. It's a fabulous city if you are into fashion. The Momu (Fashion Museum) is a wonderful museum where they let you take photos and have a marvelous bookshop along with great displays.

The architecture is wonderful and the cathedral is well worth a visit; beautiful windows, paintings, including some by Reubens, carvings, candles and the unusual. 



We had lunch one day in a great Dutch cafe which was full of photos and biscuit tins featuring the Dutch Royal family. Lunch was lovely and even the bill bought a smile to our faces. 

Although there were lots of very posh, designer shops, some of them having window displays which made them look like art galleries, they weren't too daunting. 

Finally of course typical of a city like Antwerp there were lots and lots of wonderful doors for me to photograph. 


Sunday, 27 October 2013

The Big Knit

I've been having a bit of fun creating some cute little hats for Inncocent Smoothie bottles. I even managed to get Alex to knit one too.