An elegant sufficiency

Friday, June 30, 2006

Leaving your mark

It seems as though earlier generations of Petreans have felt the need to leave their mark behind. As we sat in the Peterhouse chapel, listening to Edward singing, we moved a hymn book and found this underneath.  Posted by Picasa

A day to be a proud parent

Sometimes, it's good to stand back and think "job well done". This was one such occasion. We were so proud of Edward and delighted to see him graduate yesterday. A blow by blow account for Grandparents, Godparents and friends can be found on our other blog, here

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

How many pillows are enough?

Just wondering if anyone ever asks for extra pillows in this hotel?
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Friday, June 23, 2006

Not quite what one might expect

We enjoyed the company of Miriam, a friend from New York, overnight and did the usual thing by cramming every waking moment with sightseeing and activity. Poor Miriam struggled to overcome her jet lag and did amazingly well to stay awake until almost 10pm - a real achievement.

Besides going out into the Cotswolds countryside and trying to avoid the usual tourist honeypots, we dipped into Pittville Pump Rooms, Cheltenham, to illustrate why the name on the railway station signs is "Cheltenham Spa". Having spent a while describing the nature and activities involved in this kind of spa (as opposed to a place with jacuzzis and steam rooms) it came as a small disappointment to find this:
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Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Another photograph from yesterday

Rachel John's small exhibition at Voirrey Embroidery was well worth the detour.
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Port Sunlight

Since Blogger doesn't want to play nicely and insert my photograph into the previous post, where it belongs, I've posted it directly from Picasa.

Sometimes Blogger is a real pain....
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Sunday, June 18, 2006

Here, there and everywhere

After the heat of yesterday, it was quite a surprise to wake to an overcast morning and a forecast of rain - not good news when we had packed our bags in about 30C, believing it to last throughout the weekend. However, in true British style, we set off regardless of our inappropriate clothing in the general direction of Liverpool, intending to dive into a gallery if it rained too hard.
We didn't get very far! No sooner had we set off to walk around Albert Dock (which was not looking at all like this as you can see) than it began to rain, so our walk along the Mersey riverside path was a short one, and we took refuge in the Tate Gallery and a cup of coffee.

We started with the Bruce Naumann exhibit, "Make me Think" which didn't so much make us think as give us both headaches! Rather disturbing even if it was a talking point. We much preferred the work of Marie-Louise Motesiczky and still more, the DLA Piper Series which was so interesting in the way it set out to illustrate movements in art over a period of time. Towards Abstraction was particularly successful from my point of view. By the time we'd done with the Henry Moores, it was pouring with rain, so we headed for the car, decided Paul McCartney's 64th birthday was not enough reason to visit the Beatles Story and set off in the direction of The Wirral.

Mark had spotted an advert for Voirrey Embroidery somewhere along the way, so having decided not to join the people sitting huddled in their cars on the New Brighton seafront, we drove around the coast and then headed to Brimstage. Needless to say it was a popular place, but good for a look around, especially the exhibition of Rachel John's jumbo knitting.

Courtyard Crafts had also caught my eye when we were in Albert Dock, and having declined a "frequent customer" card there, saying we'd unlikely be going there again, we found ourselves in the Brimstage shop within the hour. I'd been quite impressed by the way they had arranged their shop so that instead of having huge banks of different rubber stamps or whatever, they'd themed small displays with bits and pieces put together in a more eye catching fashion. I always find these places interesting, if only to spot what's new so that I can recognise it when it turns up in a competition I'm judging!

Setting off back towards Knutsford, I muttered something about Port Sunlight. Just in time, because there it was on the next signpost. Unfortunately we didn't get there in time to do the Lady Lever Art Gallery justice (and anyway, we'd had a fair bit of art from the Tate already!) but we enjoyed mooching around admiring the buildings and peaceful atmosphere. Just one question, where were all the cars? We bought our Sunlight soap and a bar of Lifebuoy (one sniff and we were both back at school!) and headed back to Knutsford, pleased with ourselves for filling a dreary day with so many interesting places.

(Blogger doesn't want to upload photos right now, so they will follow later)

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Three Counties Show

We were invited to lunch at the Three Counties Show today, which was great - if a little hot! How interesting that these people were attracting a lot of interest.

Otherwise, same old stands and nothing really out of the ordinary. Our favourites were to be found amongst the sheep and the pigs, where there were some HUGE star performers!

Drove straight on up to Knutsford after lunch, where we're staying for the weekend. Looking forward to exploring a new (to us) part of the country tomorrow. Posted by Picasa

Friday, June 16, 2006

Inspiration to get planting

We spent today at Highgrove where sadly, no cameras were allowed, not even on phones, so I have no pictures to share. It was a charity garden day, on behalf of the St John Ambulance First Responders and took the form of a guided tour, lunch in The Orchard Room and two talks in the afternoon. There was also the opportunity to shop in the Highrove giftshop, which seemed to be the highlight of the day for many!

The garden was as stunning as ever and HRH's aim to create a garden to "please the eye, warm the heart and feed the soul" was fulfilled from our point of view and we really couldn't have had a better day for our visit.

I had two favourite spots. One was the "Carpet Garden" which had been an exhibit at Chelsea, and which was a haven of cool on one of the hottest days of the year. The other was not so much of a spot, but a sign placed on the entry to the garden:


Tuesday, June 13, 2006


Just been for a bit of fresh air in the garden, and spotted this in the pond. Had noticed the dried-up brown grasshopper-looking creatures underneath a couple of lily leaves yesterday, but had no idea that this dragonfly was about to break out. Five minutes later he was gone - we were very fortunate to have caught sight of him at the crucial moment.

Isn't it clever how all of that creature fits in that little case? And how on earth do those long and spindly legs emerge leaving the empty shells so perfect?

Loads of information - probably more than you need to know - here
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Saturday, June 10, 2006

That time of year...

The elderflowers are late this year, but the warm weather has brought them all out and this morning we had no problems collecting a huge bowlful to make the 2006 vintage Elderflower Cordial. Making the base for our favourite drink holds many sad memories for me, but it's therapeutic to remember the good times as well.

Our favourite Elderflower cordial recipe came from The Times a few years back.

1 lemon, grate the rind and slice the fruit

35g citric acid

900g sugar

10 elderflower heads

750ml boiling water

Put sugar in a large bowl and pour on boiling water. Stir to dissolve. Add the grated lemon rind and the rest of the lemon, the citric acid and the flowerheads. Leave for 24 hours, stirring occasionally. Sieve through muslin, pour into clean bottles and seal with screwtop caps. Keeps for six months or you can freeze it, leaving room for expansion, of course.

We freeze it in plastic tubs, then defrost and decant into those French lemonade bottles which go in the fridge door. This is the last bottle of the 2005 vintage.

I find the hardest part of this is buying the citric acid powder, which, I am told, has many uses, not all of which are acceptable in polite society. Of course, if you are a fine upstanding member of the community and pillar of the WI as I am, you will have no problems! Otherwise, I can say that a bottle of the delicious liquid taken into the pharmacy as evidence works wonders for next year's citric acid request, especially if taken in on the hottest, stickiest day of the year.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

House hunting

Each morning, as we walked out of the hotel, this house on the ridge opposite caught my eye. Wouldn't it be great to live in such a place, with that open sided room at the top of the tower offering glorious (cool) views of the lake and the mountains?

But then, think of getting right up there every day - it's on such a steep hill, and I think this one on the lakeside might suit me better? We could moor our little speedboat in the boathouse and entertain friends in the garden on balmy evenings.

Hmmmm....that tower might attract bats though, and could be a bit creepy. Perhaps there's somewhere else further along the lake?

This looks just the place! We could walk in the grounds, cruise off across the lake to Bellagio whenever we cared, and the extra income from the film could come in very useful. I suppose I could get used to drinking Martinis shaken, not stirred?

But oh, those tourists passing by, taking photographs - it would feel as though we were living in a goldfish bowl! I need somewhere more private.

How about this place? Set on the sunny side of the lake, in large grounds, set back from the road and with a beautfully private entrance.

What a pity George Clooney bought it first. I suppose we'll just have to stay put for a while.


The shoe shop in Menaggio had this curious pair of shoes on display, which the assistant referred to as "contraband shoes".

Not sure if she meant they were a bad copy of some designer trainers, or if they were made to conceal illicit goods, because of course, no-one would notice if you walked through customs wearing a pair like this, would they?

But aren't they great?

The streets of the small towns and villages around the lake are steep, many with steps (which wasn't great for my dear Mummy, who walks with a stick!) But wonderful inspiration with light and shade, glimpses of promised lands awaiting at the top of a long climb and such an evocative palette of colours.

I think I see a quilt here. Possibly a free-form log cabin?

Walking along the lakeside in Varenna, these little ferns grabbed my attention. No larger than two or three inches in size, they clung to the stones and spread beautifully across the surface. I felt they'd make a wonderful series of small embroideries, but have a feeling I've seen something similar before. Isn't it hard when that happens? Would hate to think anyone thought I'd been anything less than original!

Almost every time we hopped on a steamer, the first stop was Varenna, just across the lake. These little houses, clinging to the hillside shouted Paul Klee to me.

Back home again

Back from a week in Menaggio, on Lake Como, where my Mum and I had a relaxing break.

Didn't do a great deal - sat on steamers as they went up and down the lake, ate gelati, drank wine and bought shoes.

Isn't Italy great?

(picture shows Varenna, just across the lake from Menaggio)

Just in case you thought I sat and twiddled my thumbs, here's the evidence that the sock progressed. Actually both socks progressed.

To keep body and soul together, a small plate of yummy salamis etc was enough for lunch.

Isn't Italy great?!