Monday, 31 May 2010

Creative Heaven

Well as you know, my sister visited last week and sharing a penchant for all things patchy, quilty and fabricy, we decided on a little jaunt on Wednesday.

We took ourselves over to Hampton Court and to a shop we had read about in quilting magazines (and whose stand I had visited at the International Festival of Quilts). We parked easily, and even for free, (shock horror!) and found the shop within an easy stroll, via a stop for tea and cake at one of the many pavement cafes. So here we are, at Creative Quilting. (Photos courtesy of my 'phone as I forgot the big monster camera.)

Ah, what a little gem of a shop this is. Oodles of fabric everywhere you look.

Completed quilts adorn the walls to inspire you.

The ladies in the shop are both knowledgeable and helpful.

I don't need any help filling my little basket with all sorts of goodies, especially when I see my favourites, the 1930's reproduction prints. Let me at 'em!

But that's not all, with my basket already full to over flowing, we realise there is a second side to the shop, Creative Quilting is in fact two shops joined into one. Oh happy days!

There's plenty of everything here to be honest, including some of the harder to find stuff. There's a stack of Lecien fabrics below all those interesting notions and templates.

There's also a good selection of Tilda loveliness which is usually quite elusive in this country. Oh yummy.

Button and ricrac heaven (Tilda super-size fat quarters stashed below, just ready for my eager little mitts).

But oh deep joy, there is an enormous selection of books. Both Adele and I are book fiends and we spend well over an hour just standing looking through books. I have a vereeeey long list of books I would now like!

Fully sated in the crafty department, we leave Creative Quilting and find some other pleasant little shops along the road. There are a couple of antiques/collectables shops, one has a beautiful old shop front and inside has some lovely vintage clothes (including a fab selection of frilly nighties and peignoirs, oh the glamour!) and a great display of vintage china.

In another gifty shop (lovely stuff, not so lovely prices, eek, which reminds us we're in a very select part Surrey), I am miffed to find someone has stolen my mantle!

We have a wander down by the river. It really is a very quaint little place. By the way, the railway station is smack in the heart of Hampton Court so it's very easy to visit by public transport.

It's a lovely sight but I must say, the water was filthy!

The best we can do is to spot the magnificent Hampton Court from the bridge, once home to Henry VIII, but with a Master Munchkin to pick up from school, we have to leave a tour for another day.

Goodies to show and tell? Oh yes siree!

Plenty of lovely fabrics as you can see, including felts in yummy colours, a stack of Tilda on the left, a pretty new range in the middle, and some 1930's reproduction fabrics on the right; some giant ricrac in pretty colours, fab stripey buttons, a really good fabric marking pencil and an eraser to go with it that actually works!

I've had little time for sewing and crafting recently (sob) but I did manage a little postcard with the new Tilda fabric to add to my burgeoning range of stitchy postcards. This one has a Summer Sixties vibe. Hey babe!

I will be adding them soon to my new online shop. When it's actually up and running that is!

Friday, 28 May 2010

Flower Power

Yes it's that glorious week again, the week of the Chelsea Flower Show. Here at the HenHouse, we've swapped guests; my parents have gone, my sister is in residence and so under fairly dull skies (sadly), we hopped on the train to Victoria where I was disproportionately excited to find a Routemaster would be taking us to the grounds of the flower show.

And what magnificent grounds they are, the Royal Hospital, Chelsea...

Many of these splendidly tuned out Chelsea Pensioners were there to collect money for charity, have a chat and happily pose for photos.

Straight on to the big show gardens then. I must say, it was absolutely packed at the flower show this year, many sharp elbows seemed to be out in order to get to the front to see the gardens. I confess I grew a little tired of it after a while!

This was the first large show garden, by M&G Investments (they didn't seem to have come up with a nice name for it), and it had some very beautiful planting, lots of lovely roses. It was definitely one of the prettier and more traditional gardens. Carol Klein was filming in here so it was very difficult to get near the front to have a look and take photos. This garden won a gold medal.

This garden was a fairly show-stopping stunner, based on a Victorian aviary garden (that at Waddesdon manor). I thought the planting took too much of a backseat but the stone path was really very good indeed. This won a silver medal.

This is the L'Occitane garden and was based on all the plants they use in their toiletries. Hmm, I could just imagine myself sipping a glass of something chilled in Provence! This won a silver-gilt.

This one is the Daily Telegraph garden designed by the well-known Andy Sturgeon and winner of best show garden. It's not really to my taste but I can see the skill which has gone into it.

Another very eye-catching garden, this one, by Cancer Research (paid for entirely by a private sponsor), on the theme of "enlighten". Whilst I wouldn't have my garden like this with that huge metal structure, there were elements of it that were very pleasing. It had a very serene feeling with all those slatey greys, blues and whites. The planting was actually very pretty close-up, though I appreciate it's hard to see it from this photo. This also won gold.

Further on, this very large site was home to a pretty whacky garden by the Eden Project. It was created with help from ex-offenders and homeless people. There were some lovely flowers but overall, it was a little zany!

Having seen most of the large gardens, we decided to wander round to the courtyard gardens which due to their tucked away location, are always busy and a fight to see. Many people were already picnicking. Hard to imagine this very pastorale scene is in the middle of busy London!

There were many stalls selling all sorts of wares along the edge of the pathways. Being rather fond of those little Fiat cars, I thought this was fun! (They were oversized beanbags.)

Oooh, most excellent!!!!

So down in the courtyard gardens, we were amused by the rhubarb and custard garden!

Less so by the bizarre "Lights and Colours of the Alps". I never imagined Heidi frolicking somewhere like this!

Overall, I was really disappointed by the courtyard gardens this year. Usually, they are not quite so modern as the large show gardens so they offer something for the more traditional gardener like myself. They were all very "samey", not a lot of colour or much pretty planting (in my humble opinion).

Back now to some of the smaller show gardens. I thought this one was rather pretty but then I am quite biased towards blue planting schemes. It is the "Bee Friendly" garden, I do rather like bees, and the planting is said to encourage bees into the garden.

More blue!

Now you're talking, lupins alert. Except I think this pretty planting was on one of the stalls outside selling oak framed garden structures!

Ah yes, pretty planting and zingy colours in this little show garden, "the Waterless Water Garden" (eh?) It is apparently designed to be a rooftop garden on a modern building based on a Japanese Zen garden. Hmm, no idea what that is all about!

Didn't particularly like this garden, the "Easigrass Garden" (apparently the garden of a hard working plantaholic bachelor!) but did love the purple-y tulips planted amidst that bronze fennel.

This garden was created by the Dyslexia Research Trust, hence the over-sized books and the capital letters scattered up the path. I'm afraid I find the gardens with "deep, hidden meanings" a bit hard work. I just want to admire the pretty plants!

This is the "Ace of Diamonds" garden, can you see that the table is in the shape of a diamond ring and there are lots of "jewels" scattered at the front. Apparently, on Monday (the posh day), they had real jewels there!

This is the "Bradstone Biodiversity Garden", designed to encourage all sorts of life forms into the garden. We did indeed see many bees guzzling away! It was designed by a former student of Chris Beardshaw.

Now, it's time for shopping. Something you may not realise if you haven't been to Chelsea is that there are as many stalls selling things as there are gardens to look at. From the expected garden houses and equipment, to clothing, art and everything in between! I was rather taken by these pink painted garden supports.

Adele meanwhile, who has a collection currently numbering 16 honey pots, was rather taken by these!

Vintagey goods were available on this stall.

Pretty, pretty...

Ah, now I was most chuffed to find this stall which belonged to a designer named Jacqueline Mulvaney with whom we had a lovely chat. Some of you may know her, indeed I recognised some of the fabrics she had used and was informed they were indeed from none other than Donna!

Such a lovely cushion on this chair...

Jacqueline has just had a book published which I was lucky enough to have a look though. I now have a copy on order, so when it comes, we'll have a closer look.

Finally (are you flagging? I was/am!) Into the Great Pavilion.

The delphiniums are always stupefying!

Stunning peonies from Kelways in Langport.

David Austin Roses.

This rose was such an unusual (and beautiful) colour.

A rose amongst the thorns!

The new David Austin rose for this year, Maid Marion, has the most gorgeous, strong scent.

My favourite exhibit in the pavilion had to be these amazing hyacinths from Holland (new this year).


Cute little violas...

Divine auriculas. (One for you, Vanessa.)

Peter Beales' Roses' display is always stunning and the scent in the air is beautiful.

And finally, it had to be...

Phew! What a day, wonderful but oh so tiring! Now where did I put that trowel...