Tuesday, 29 September 2009


The ability to buy pretty garden-type flowers has disappeared from London. Not a dahlia nor an aster in sight. Anywhere. I'd probably fare better in the West Country but until then, I'm brightening up the house with some potted plants. Shock horror, how very grannyish! Well, maybe not...

Do you think my "hot pink plant" is grannyish?

Or what about my little kalanchoe (crocheted jar cover courtesy of Lucy).

Ok, there's probably a hint of granny about the little cloth and the flowery china but I LIKE granny! In fact, never mind "Bazaar Style" and "Flea Market Style", when is someone bringing out "Granny Style"?!

There's been a spot of making, of course. The lovely Mrs Bobo Bun had whipped up a pretty trivet following the pattern in the super "Quilting in No Time" and with a spare hour yesterday evening, I thought I'd follow her lead.

I think this is not the correct size. The annoying thing about the book is that all the pattern templates need to be enlarged (which I think is pretty unforgivable given they are quite small anyway). Lacking a photocopier on hand as the average household does, I decided to enlarge the triangle myself and unsurprisingly, my rudimentary maths led me to a not-quite-large-enough triangle. No matter, still useful and jolly. It's an easy pattern though hand stitching the binding is quite time consuming but nothing an hour in front of the telly after dinner can't sort out.

Outside, there's more potty stuff after I attacked the patio on Sunday in a clearing and tidying frenzy. My dahlia which I bought from Perch Hill is flowering once more and looking rather eye-catchingly pretty.

So, it was out with all the half dead annuals and in with the Autumnal pansies and violas with their sweet little faces.

Shame the resident squirrel seems to be so fond of digging in my newly planted pots and unearthing all my carefully planted bulbs. Thanks for that, Mr Nutkin! I have a couple of these cute little "orange trees" as I like to call them which my clever mum has grown from little cuttings but I'm keeping those to go in the pots once the geraniums have finished. These really signal the change of the season to me, I invariably have them either side of our front door by Christmas time.

And I'm still picking. We've had lots of lovely sunshine and the late tomatoes are ripening nicely.

Meanwhile, one sign that it really is sunny and pleasant outdoors is that Charlie Boy has roused himself from his slumber (on the woollen Witney blanket I found at the car boot which was not actually meant to be for him) to venture outdoors. Crikey!

Not another photo, mum.

Hmm, I sense I am not the only kitty here. Who's that big ginge trying to hide under the table? He's nabbed a cushion too.

Whack! You can't hide from me!

Seemingly, Jacky Ginge was not up for a scrap today so Charles headed back off to his beloved Witney.

In the living room, there's something new to show you. Whilst staying with my folks in Chester, I found this groovy sheet of wrapping paper and decided to give it a whirl in this frame. I think it looks rather good.

Of course, there's been more stitchy action in the den. I came across a couple of lovely fabrics I'd ordered from America a while back and wanted to make something with them. What does a girl need? Funky shopping bags, that's what. Off to the shops then...


Sunday, 27 September 2009


9am yesterday found myself and Mr HH here, at Kings Cross station, to finally enjoy Mr HH's birthday present which he received in June.

The occasion was a trip hauled by the newly built steam engine "Tornado" (the first steam engine to be built in this country for 50 years). Time to settle down at our table for breakfast. You can't beat the Pullman for travelling in style every now and then for a treat!

My favourite bit - the champagne for breakfast, always feels more decadent than having it at any other time of day somehow!

An awful lot of food, lots of reading and chatting and 4 hours later, we find ourselves in York, resplendant in radiant sunshine with the brightest of blue skies. We take our chance to admire the engine.

The driver obviously worked very hard!

We are allowed the rare privilege of going up on the footplate (inside the cab of the engine) and feel the immense heat from the fire inside the engine. We know now why it's such a dirty job!

Mr HH allows himself to dream of a life away from the boring city, where he is the driver of Tornado instead!

We set off on foot, intent on enjoying our few hours in York. We cross the river and watch the boats going to and fro.

We wander through the streets, such a lovely city with beautiful historic buildings, and admire the Minster.

We find the infamous Betty's Tea Rooms but the queue is predictably huge so we settle for a few purchases from the shop instead.

But the pull is too strong! For I know that nestled within those quaint, historic lanes is a certain emporium. I spot that distinctive blue and red sign a veritable mile away!

Oh joy. Right inside the door, the display is instantly stunning!

I do think that the merchandising in Cath K's shops is brilliant. I've visited a few now and they all have lovely but different displays. I particularly love the vintage pieces, especially the upholstered furniture, because you just don't see this sort of thing in other shops. I've long hankered after one of these haberdasher's counters...

Aaarrgghh, it's a patchwork chair!

The backs of the drawers have received a "paint job".

Hmmm, couldn't you just cosy up in that bed. I am in love with the white/flowery bouquet bedlinen. It can only be a matter of time before I succumb!

This chaise is pretty beautiful too. At the rear of this store is a little garden and they have made the most of using the windows and doors for display.

Back in the bedroom area, there's a rather eye catching dressing table and screen.

And a lovely display on the wall shelves.

Eek! I love this blanket cushion. The blanket still had its Witney label on. The chair (with cushion!) could be yours for £350. Beside it, there's another of those lovely papered chests.

I confess to parting company with Cath on the subject of paint. Whilst I love the bright painted furniture, I am not a fan of gloss paint and I much prefer eggshell. I must say, the staff in the York store were lovely. We got chatting to one assistant who told us that there is a man responsible for merchandising the shops and he, with a team of about 4 others, goes to the fairs such as Swinderby, and also in France, buying up all the vintage goodies we see in the shops. She told me that the new catalogue is coming out soon and there is a feature about him in it. I wait with baited breath..!

Tired but happy, we settled back on to the train for a sumptuous dinner. They certainly feed you well on these trips! It was dark by the time we pulled into London but we'd had a wonderful day. The staff on these trips really go out of their way to make sure every aspect of your day is perfect and the food (and drink!) was first rate. We took our trip with Steam Dreams; if you/your nearest and dearest are interested in these trips, we've now done several and they've been great, better than the Orient Express in our opinion (cheaper too). Perfect for a special occasion.

Until next time, Tornado..!

After a good night's sleep, we decided to forego the car boot in favour of a rare lie-in. I don't really do lie-ins though, so I was prowling round the kitchen at a reasonable hour. We've picked nearly all of the tomatoes and chillies now but we've had a good amount of sun recently which has helped ripen everything nicely. I spot cookies!

We bought a little treat for the Munchkin from Betty's.

I think I know which conker he will prefer...

I decided to go back to bed with my copy of BoB that arrived yesterday...

...and errm, a few of those cookies!

Thursday, 24 September 2009

Fabric Frenzy

Something's going on in the Cath K stash corner. Half of it's missing..!

That would be because some of it's over here...

...and lots of it, now neatly chopped up, is over here, waiting to be ironed.

All shall be revealed, my dear readers!

Whilst I was going through the Cath K stash armed with my rotary cutter like a woman on a mission, I thought we might enjoy having a look at the patterns, all so lovely.

Some of my favourites, these stripey, flowery ones...

The rose gingham was introduced on kitchen items, noticeably teatowels, but the yardage was only ever (to my knowledge) available in the green and blue in the shops and was quickly discontinued. I snapped up a bit at sale price. I can't understand why it was discontinued so soon as I love it. I bought the yellow and pink versions on eBay but only small pieces. The yellow "rose wiggle" fabric you can see (bottom, middle of photo) has been discontinued some time. I spotted it in Cath's book Vintage Style and went on a mission to hunt some down. I found a metre on eBay but have never found any more. I'd love some of the pink (pretty please, Father Christmas?!)

There are plenty of spotty and starry designs. To my eternal dismay, several of the star colours were discontinued (only the pale pastel ones remain, boring) and seem to have been replaced with more spotty designs which just aren't as exciting and definitely not as cowboy-ish, as the Munchkin would tell you. I bought a few teatowels at Bicester purely to have a bit of red star "in stash" for future cowboy projects!

There have been several more graphic designs. The kitchen print was soon discontinued as were all these patterns with the exception of the popular "pop flowers" which is currently enjoying a reincarnation. Of course, the new "electric flowers" is quite similar and rather delicious in my opinion, adorning the Roberts' radio as it does. I shall be adding a bit of that to my stash on Saturday when Mr HH and I pop to York.

Not forgetting the fabby pictorial prints. I don't go a bundle on the ballerina design or the racing car one but boats and cowboy are simply fab. I rather liked the ponies and the football (wish I had some football fabric to make the Munchy a peg bag for school). It is our enduring wish that Miss Cath brings out a fabulous steam engine design.

Onto pretty flowery prints. These below are all in a lighter weight cotton than the cotton duck which makes them very useful for certain projects where the cotton duck would be too rough or thick. The paisley pattern always seems to be produced in the lighterweight cotton. I adore the posy fabric (fourth from left), so simple but very vintage in style and lends itself so well to many projects. I was only thinking today that most of Cath K's prints are quite large scale, this one is a bit more dainty and in certain projects, all the more useful for that.

Onto "classic rose". I have it in four colourways. I think the white one (bottom right of photo) might be in production but I think the others have had an "early retirement"?! The one on the taupe background is lovely, snapped up at Bicester.

More flowers, old and new designs, with blue and grey backgrounds. I adore the grey fabric (second from right, the name escapes me but I'm sure you'll know). It's been discontinued a while. I'm surprised I like it actually, grey is not what you would think of as an exciting colour and certainly not very Cath K but I think this fabric works beautifully. I made my knitting bag out of this and have very little left now. Sob! I also love the little blue Clover design (left) which I bought from Bicester and used for dining room curtains at the cottage. Sadly, I have virtually none of that left either. The Textured Rose design is possibly my favourite of the new prints (third from right).

More flowers, this time with more neutral backgrounds.

Vying for "most favourite fabric" is the Vintage Posy pattern. I had a little bit of this in the blue and white colourway, I've just cut up the last of that today. I saw more of the gorgeous pinky version in Bicester recently and snapped up a couple of metres. I cut into it for the first time today but first, I thought I'd have a bit of fun with it on my chair. Hmm, quite luscious!

Ah well, the rotary cutter has steam rising from it, I think I've got a blister on my little finger but the stash is restored! It's the first time I've ever got the whole lot out and had a good go through it. I didn't realise I had quite so much! She's quite a prolific designer, our Cath.

But what have you been doing with it, Hen, surely you're not so sad that you just got it all out to fondle it?! Oh no, there's been much stripping, seaming and so on...

Not to make book covers this time, which is what I have used my stripey patchwork for previously, but to make something to rest my little tootsies on whilst relaxing in my chair.

Yes, a funky, bright, comfy, squishy, patchworky "pouffe" (love that word)! Useful and beautiful I believe, Mr William Morris. I made a barrel shape from the patchwork fabric (took quite a lot to make that, I can tell you, a full 5' long), inserted a zip into the side so I'd be able to stuff the pouffe once finished (and launder it thereafter of course), attached it to a round piece of plain calico on the bottom and chose a piece of vintage embroidered cloth for the top (backed with iron-on interfacing for strength). I've stuffed it with some cheap foam-filled cushions I found at the sewing shop yesterday. The shape will improve as it settles a bit and gets squashed a bit! Et voila!

Ah, after that morning of hard work, a spot of relaxation is in order!

I'll just put my feet up!