Monday, April 30, 2012

A Pirate Map or two... Finding Fun

Maps seem to be a bit of a theme here at the moment! I'll be showing your next set of requests from my embroidered map soon - probably on Thursday, as tomorrow is a holiday for us here in France.
Over at Mess, Muddle and Fun, Carolyn is encouraging bloggers to find some fun, inspired in part by the excellent GBS quotation: “We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing”.
Carolyn's first week of suggestions is related to going for a walk, but the weather here (just like the weather in the UK) is not encouraging outdoor activities today. So instead of making a map of our favourite walk on the local Coulée Verte, I found myself captivated by making pirate maps again!
This first one was done in a lesson this morning - I teach a little five year old who is most reluctant to write, and I hoped that if she and I made a pirate map each, she'd feel inspired to write on hers! I pointed out that pirates never went to school and really couldn't write, so that her spelling was obviously going to be better than theirs! The plan worked, more or less, and it really reminded me that 'finding fun' is going to be the way to get through to this particular little girl.
But working with a five year old was both distracting and limiting - I asked her for name ideas on my own map and we ended up with a lot of 'Pirate's Bay', 'Pirate's Village' etc. I really didn't want to be the one to introduce the idea of cannibals to her, so we stuck with the Pirates, but I wanted some more creativity so this afternoon Son 1 and I were both to be found over the kitchen sink, burning the edges of more pieces of paper...

This time I drew a frankly dull outline, but I wanted to add a bit more of myself to the map. I remembered the stack and natural arch at Dawlish, Devon, and added that to the headland on the map. I couloured the headland green and it struck me that this was no desert island - this was somewhere off the coast of Britain.
So on went a beacon! Armada, Napoleon, celebrations, Lord of the Rings... I'm not sure which ones inspired this.
Got to have some archaeology - preferably with a bit of mythology to go with it!
And a long barrow inspired by the ones in Brittany, rather than in Britian itself.
Here's just a bit more archaeology - I had to get a bit of Scottish history and legend in there too.
Son 1 (they have a mini-holiday today, to join on to the Bank Holiday tomorrow) was busy with his own piece of 'ancient parchment'.
No maps for him - he's writing with lemon juice! I don't know what, yet...
So thanks for the fun, Carolyn!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Unsure as eggs is eggs...

I'm trying to think through our options here - a local friend is selling her hen house, netting for the run etc. We've talked about keeping hens for years, and the boys will certainly be keen. But we can't weigh up the pros and cons properly - maybe you kind readers could help!

On the plus side:
Ben's really good at building things and animal care.
We have a big garden.
I'm around at home quite a lot.
The boys will help (Son 2 loves animals and Son 1 wants to earn money!)
We eat a lot of eggs and I don't like buying eggs from possibly unethical sources.

But on the other hand:
Raja likes getting through fences and could be dangerous (she's a Cocker Spaniel).
We go away a few times a year and Raja and Chanel the cat already have alternative arrangements - how do you organise chicken care?
I get quite stressed when animals are ill/hurt.

What do you think, friends?

Please do have a peep at my two posts about the embroidered map, below. If you can't find your county/city of choice, do make a request for my next post!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

A Guided Tour of Embroiderer's England - Part 1

Thank you to everyone who left comments and made requests for particular counties on my 1930s embroidered map of England and Wales. There are still counties un-requested, so feel free to ask to see some more!
Carolyn got in first, suggesting that her native Lancashire would feature a cotton mill - of course she was right!
She also requested Cumbria, just next-door, although in those days it was Cumberland and Westmorland, of course:
That's the Lakes, as Carolyn predicted, up north, but what's going on in Westmorland? Ship building at Barrow? I'm not sure...
Vintage Vicki suggested farming in Suffolk. She should have been there to inspire the original embroiderer, clearly! Sorry, Vicky...
As you see, it's the same story for Betty the Woodfairy's Surrey, but LuluLiz's Sussex at least has some Downs and sheep. I would have liked to see sea bathing though, as she suggested!
Angela was hoping for, and got, the Norfolk Broads - I can imagine the Swallows and the Amazons in that little boat, can't you? I snapped Lincolnshire for Ang too - look, here's the agriculture!
There's a nice bit of coal-mining going on in Nottinghamshire too.
Vrooom! Jane suggested some history in the form of Warwick castle, but our embroiderer was going for a more modern connection - could that be an Aston Martin? A PINK Aston Martin???
Finally, Dormouse hoped to see some pictures of Liverpool. Our embroiderer didn't oblige, but she did create the most wonderful ship which has clearly just left the port.
The Isle of Man is there, but no triskelion!

It's been great fun finding the counties you requested (sorry for the variable quality of the photos) and I would be delighted if any more of you ask for counties or locations in Wales or England. The North East, where our boys were born, is unrepresented as yet...

Monday, April 23, 2012

A Map of England and Wales

I loved sharing my zany embroidered world map with you the other day, but I'm surprised that I didn't get around to showing this one to you sooner - I've had it a little longer: 

I bought it in the Saint Columba's Hospice Shop on the way down from Edinburgh city centre into Leith - it's the shop where the Hospice put all their best vintage donations, and the prices are usually accordingly steep, but when I saw this map, set in a charming oak fire screen, I was prepared to pay a bit of a higher price (and of course, the hospice is very dear to our hearts, too).
So the question that the two charming elderly ladies in the shop asked me was, "Why has nobody bought this sooner? It's lovely, isn't it?" I was a bit surprised too, but my dad laughed and laughed, and pointed out that this was the answer:
It's a map of England and Wales! How enthusiastic are Scots going to be for a piece of vintage embroidery which casually ignores their own country? Anyway, my gain...
Like any self-respecting embroidered map, this one has a range of ships romantic,
and war-like. My dad loved this one, which he reckoned was a good way of dating it - I think it's some kind of naval Destroyer, but please don't quote me.
There is a faded leaping dolphin,
and a compass rose, although the more recent one from my groovy map beats it for style, I think:
The counties are the old ones, of course, and we are guessing that the embroidery itself dates from the 1930s. I'm only going to show you one county today, my old home of Devon:
It has particularly detailed embroidery, with a walker on Dartmoor, the hills of Exmoor and a Red Devon cow. Some of the other counties don't really have any special detail, but many show some kind of industrial or leisure activity. To wish my fellow English bloggers a Happy Saint George's Day (and Welsh readers a belated St David's Day!) I'm going to let you choose your own counties, and ask you to let me know in a comment how you think they might have been represented by a 1930s embroiderer. Please let me know in your comment which (old) county you would like to see, and have a guess at what we'll find embroidered there! I'll post the results in a few days' time. Scots, (Northern) Irish, Americans, French blogueuses, and international friends from all over are also welcome to leave a comment and/or a request, of course! Have a lovely day, especially if it's your National Day!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Snapshots of five days in Edinburgh

Five days with my dad in Edinburgh.Enjoying the flowers outside, and in.
Charity shopping alone (finding this Boden), and with my dad's new companion.
Going to the theatre to watch an old favourite,
and a hilarious comedy, new to me (but Nana GoGo will know what it is!).
Eating with a very elderly friend of my mum's at a happening new organic restaurant near her home in Canonmills - she loved it!
Posing (yes, literally) for my dad's church art club!
Reading all four of the Twilight books...
and still, on this second reading, I have to say that I remain a wolf-girl. My friend Jo says I'm in a tiny minority...

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The Thrill of What You Already Have - April

This is the closest so far that I have come to cheating!The 'Thrill' is all about celebrating things that you have tucked away, with a new delight.
But the day I turned over the calendar to find this wonderfully purple picture was also the day that...
....I bought this purply flower embroidery at the Empaux Vide Grenier. In my defence, I did buy the embroidery before I peeked at the April picture! And when I saw it, I just had to put it in to my display based on the beautiful colours of the Aberdeen poster.
The other part of my display is something that's been in the house a bit longer - maybe only two years, though?I saw if for 5€ in a Troc Shop and wasn't sure - it certainly isn't my normal style, and 5€ is pushing it a bit...but I'm so happy I went for this rather zany embroidery with its purple, tattoo-style anchor.Here's a mahout on an elephant in India.An energetic Russian dancer.
Rice-picking in China.Is this oil from South Africa?A more traditional African scene, although using white embroidery silk for the Africans was, well, kind of different...Here are some well-covered women from Muslim East Africa.The USA hardly features, I'm afraid - what a Euro/Afro-centric world this embroiderer depicted!
And, assuming s/he came from France, I wonder what was in mind as the symbols of France and Spain? Some kind of food, I guess...The winds (you can glimpse a few above) and the adventurous ships are some of my favourite details:Blow, wind, blow!I love the reflection of this exotic boat with its orange sail.So a poster of Aberdeen has taken me around the world! I wonder what our other participants will find this month..?
I'm off to Edinburgh to spend about five days with my dad. We have planned some trips out and social visits, but I expect to have a little bit of time shopping and a little bit of time blogging, too! Hope to speak to you from Scotland, soon!