Sunday, August 2, 2020

Golden Lily Stitch-a-Long, part 2

Hi everyone! I hope you are all safe and healthy. Last time I had recently started a new cross stitch kit, "Golden Lily" by J.H. Dearle. I feel like I haven't been making much time to stitch, and yet there's a ton of progress here. In theory, I could potentially finish this for our next check-in!


I also promised to show an update on the "finish" of my acanthus piece. I had toyed with adding some tassels at the corner, but they didn't look right. But I do love how the cord looks:


I had never attached trim to a finished pillow, so perhaps it's a little uneven. But I still like it. 


I know I should just focus on my current cross stitch, but of course I'm thinking about what I want to work on next. I have three ideas ... an old needlepoint kit that has also been in the basement for over a decade; a large (for me, anyway!) cross stitch kit that I found irresistible; and a small, all-over traditional sashiko kit. So many choices! Hopefully I'll have made a decision by our next check in.

Till then, check out all the great projects that the other stitchers in this stitch-a-long are working on:

Avis, Claire, Gun, Carole, Sue, Constanze, Christina, Kathy, Margaret, CindyHeidi, Jackie, Hayley, Megan, Deborah, Mary MargaretRenee, Carmela, SharonDaisy, AnneConnieAJ, JennyLaura, CathieLinda, and Helen.

Our next check in is on August 23. Seriously, where is the time going?

Saturday, August 1, 2020

August OMG : Plus Quilt, continued

Well, I guess I have to do it. Having cut and pieced the flimsy for my queen-size Plus Quilt, the next step is pinning it up. One big problem:


I didn't really have the room to lay out the entire quilt. Even once I stitched it together, I didn't have a place big enough to spread it out to take a picture. 


So making the space to lay out the backing fabric, the batting, and the top, get them all stretched out, and pinning it all together is going to be a challenge requiring moving furniture, rolling up a rug, and figuring out how to stretch the fabric so it's not wrinkled ...

My goal for August, therefore, is to get the pinning done. Just typing this makes me feel slightly anxious. But it's good to have a goal, eh?

The One Monthly Goal link-up is organized by Elm Street Quilts with the idea that we can just focus on one task and make progress. You can see all the new August projects -- or add your own -- on the Goal Setting page. (You can also see how people did in July on the Finish Party page!)



Wednesday, July 29, 2020

July OMG complete : Plus Quilt part 1

Hi everyone! Am I the only person who seems to lose track of time nowadays? I have, however, been busy. 

My goal for the month of July was just to cut the fabric. Why just that? Because I had owned this particular set of fabrics since at least 2004. And they had just been folded up in a box since then. Well, okay, I moved the box from apartment to house in 2007, and unpacked that box and put them in another box. And then didn't touch them for years. 


So setting myself a small, simple goal -- especially since the cutting is so simple! -- seemed like a way to kick this off... finally. 

I didn't take any pictures of the strips -- after all, they're just strips -- or even when they were cut into the three different sizes in the pattern. Things got interesting when I laid the pieces out on the living room floor to make sure the colors worked and I had cut out enough pieces.  


Bub helped with the quality control. See how there's a chair in the upper right? Yeah, that chair made it difficult to lay everything out, and I ended up having to do a bit of rework. 


Why rework? Because I realized that it would be really difficult to keep track of all the pieces and the layout. So I decided to stitch up the top. Again, it's simple -- just lots of straight lines -- but I was still pleased to get it all together. 


It's so big that I couldn't get a decent photo of it! Also -- I have no idea how I'll get it pinned -- it's 90" square. But if I move the furniture and roll up the rug I might be able to get it done. I'll just stitch it in the simplest way -- just stitch in the ditch -- and do a simple binding. 

The One Monthly Goal link-up is organized by Elm Street Quilts with the idea that we can just focus on one task and make progress. You can see how everyone did on their July projects on the Finish Party page. Or choose an OMG project of your own and join us in August. I think I'll try to keep the momentum going on this quilt and get it pinned / sandwiched / whatever the real quilters call it!

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Travel Tuesday : the Thames Path, day 20 - Leigh-on-Sea to Southend Pier

Walked June 22, 2002


I didn't want to end my trip out to sea at Allhallows, lovely though it was. So I pulled out my map and looked for a place on the north bank, and my next stretch became obvious: Leigh-on-Sea to the end of Southend Pier. Perfect. 

It wasn't a long walk, but I could take the train to Leigh-on-Sea and stroll along the water all the way. So I set off early and arrived on the river at Leigh-on-Sea. 


Past the marina, and boats both afloat and above the tide.



And then I came to this fish counter run by Estuary Fish ... and how could I resist?


I ordered cockles ... not quite knowing what to expect. So that's a cockle...


Not particularly unpleasant ... tasted like tiny mussels, I think. I recall them being cold, so perhaps they were pickled? 

I wandered farther along, hitting my first beach. It was a pleasant Saturday morning and people were playing in the water. 


On past Chalkwell, along the beach -- I spotted the Crow Stone. Like the other London Stones, it marks the (then) end of the jurisdiction of the City of London on the Thames.


I walked on into Westcliff-on-Sea, where the cafes were crowded with people enjoying brunch.


I took a little detour from the river to see the Cliffs Pavilion, a theatre and events space.



There was a fine view of the Thames Estuary from the Cliff Pavilion -- it really looks like the seaside from here.


And in the distance, I could see Southend Pier.


I walked through the Cliff Gardens, a very pretty park.


And soon came to the Queen Victoria statue, Southend. The right hand is a replacement--fitted, coincidentally, around the same time a statue of the young queen from across the river in Gravesend lost her hand... 


The statue was presented by Mayor Bernard Wiltshire Tolhurst to the town to mark the Queen's diamond jubilee in 1897. It originally stood across from the pier; people used to joke that she was pointing at the gents toilets.

image from Visit Southend

Back down on the seafront promenade (look at the illuminations!) in Southend-on-Sea, I could see Adventure Island and the pier.


It's interesting writing these memories up. Why ON EARTH did I miss the opportunity to ride a funicular? As a lover of trains and transport, I have no idea why I did not ride the Cliff Lift.


The Cliff Lift was built in 1912 and has been restored many times. It only holds 12 passengers -- perhaps that's why I didn't ride? 

image from Visit Southend

I had to walk through Adventure Island to get on the pier. This Adventure Railway was really just a small train running in a tight circle... though the kids seemed to enjoy it.


Southend Pier is the longest pleasure pier in the world: 1.34 miles long. I joined the people strolling along to the end of the pier. 


I walked past this reminder of the 1979 pier fire. Perhaps what's remarkable is that they restored so much of the pier after the fire.


I reached the end of the pier and looked down the river and out to sea.


This view back down the length of the pier shows just how long this pier is. 


Here at the end of the pier, I took the bottle of water from the Source in Gloucestershire out of my pack.


I asked a passerby if he would do me the favor of taking a photo of me pouring the water out. He looked skeptical, so I had to explain what it was and what I had just done. At which point he was happy to do it... and told all of his friends that I had walked the Thames Path from Source to Sea.



Success!


Then... what? I realized I was a little at a loss of what would come next. Part of it was that I had completed the Thames Path; part was that I didn't know what I would do with my life. Soon I would be returning to the US without a job or, really, a place to live. 


I considered having fish that had been BATTERED BY EXPERTS, but there wasn't anywhere to sit in the chippy so I just had a pint from the pub. Apparently there's a cafe on the pier now that is the location for a Jamie Oliver / Jimmy Doherty cooking show that's only open when they're filming. 


I started walking back down the pier ... see that railway track? Yep, there's a train that runs the length of the pier. 


See, honest: a train. 


I loved the mile markers on Southend Pier:


I made up my mind to ride the train, so I doubled back to the far end and got on there. Somehow didn't take any photos, but I remember feeling silly gleeful on a slow-moving, clacking train. Was it any different than riding the Adventure Railway? 


I wandered along the "seaside"; able to resist a second helping of cockles.



I admired the old Kursaal, opened in 1901 as part of one of the world's first purpose-built amusement park. This building held a ballroom, a circus, an arcade, a dining hall, and a billiards room. Now it holds a McDonalds and a bowling alley. Nowadays I would go in to have a look, but in 2002 I was saddened by it and just walked on by.


I took one last look Southend Pier -- and the sea -- and headed to the station for the trip back to London.



Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Travel Tuesday : the Thames Path day 19 - path potpourri!

Driven June 11, 2002

As I walked the Thames Path there were a few additional places I wanted to visit -- or to go back to. So one day I rented a car and drove around. First stop, Seven Springs. 


Seven Springs claims to be the source of the Thames, but really it's the source of the Churn -- which does indeed flow into the Thames, and is 11 miles further north. But the Ordnance Survey, Conservators of the River Thames, and most other groups agree that this is not the source of the Thames. Still, worth a visit, eh?

"Here, o Father Thames, is your sevenfold spring"

It was lovely and quiet and green -- and of course completely deserted. 


My next stop was closer to the true source -- so close, in fact, that I had walked only a few yards away from it without knowing it. Lyd Well is an ancient holy site and the first place there is always water in the Thames.


It's tucked behind some trees, and I would have walked past it not once but twice as I walked from Kemble station to the source and back. Here's the thing -- I have only just now realized that this wall is downstream from Lyd Well and the actual spring is to the left of the frame of this photo. So I still have yet to see it in person! 


I have seen some photos, including this one from the absolutely marvelous site "Where Thames Smooth Waters Glide" which puts my Thames Path memories to shame:

Lyd Well from "Where Thames Smooth Waters Glide", https://thames.me.uk/s02380.htm

Not far after this wall I could see the first glimpse of water out in the open -- the real river. 


My next stop was a return visit -- on a day when the house was open -- to Kelmscott Manor. William Morris lived and worked in what he called his "Heaven on Earth". No photographs inside, but it's full of the work of Morris and his contemporaries and is, well, exquisite. 

The front of the house is the classic view:


though I didn't quite get it lined up like the image from the frontispiece of News from Nowhere, Morris's utopian novel. 





Here's the back of the house:


One of the outbuildings is a handsome little "earth room":


A "3-seater earth room" ... three seats, no waiting...


But if you kept the door open, you had a nice view of the main house:


I spent some time meandering around the gardens, too.




This makes me want to build a rustic pergola in my (much smaller) garden:


And, of course, the gardens had the inspiration for that classic Morris pattern, acanthus:


Nearby, on a cottage commissioned by William's widow Jane Morris is the stone plaque of William under a tree at Kelmscott Manor:


Feeling I deserved a break, I headed over to the Plough Inn, which I had noticed on my previous visit. Pint of cider and a nice lunch? Yes please. 


Rested and happy, I headed back east. I drove through Reading, avoiding this danger along the river:


My final stop was in Staines -- BOOYAKASHA. Not to tangle with either Da West Staines Massif or Da East Staines Massif... but to see the London Stone.


This stone marked the upstream limit of the City of London's jurisdiction. Why would the City have rights over the Thames? The English Crown held the rights to fish all of England's rivers and could charge for fishing licenses. But in 1197 King Richard I needed money to finance the Third Crusade, so he sold the rights to the lower Thames to the City of London. Marker stones were erected to indicate the limit of the City's rights; Staines is the highest point on the river that is tidal, apparently.


This is a 20th-century replica; the original is now in the town hall at Staines. See the indentations on the right edge of the stone? (Yes, even this replica...) The ones on the original were caused by the tow ropes of the horses rubbing against the stone. 


The day was a big success -- and the car was useful as it would have required multiple trips to visit all the places by train. 

Next up: Leigh-on-Sea to Southend