Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Charmed in Chatham

Well who would have thought it, here I am again!  How could I miss telling you about the super day out we had on Sunday, 1940's style, of course.  This time, it was fortunate that the event was taking place a relative hop, skip and a jump from us.  Off we set for the old naval dockyard in Chatham in Kent, then.

It's quite a marvellous setting in its own right and the day was more special for us as we were accompanied by Mr HenHouse's parents, his Dad having worked for many years in this very dockyard.  Of course, out came the gladrags...

You may likely have spotted that Mr HenHouse was looking even more splendid than usual.  He's worked really hard to research his uniform, making sure he has all the correct buttons and so on.  I think it really suits him.  I always did like a man in uniform!

Aside from all the special displays for the '40s weekend, the Dockyard is already a visually spectacular place.

There was a super collection of vintage cars to ogle, often with stylishly dressed owners.

A stray evacuee was up to mischief!

My favourite part (other than the shopping!) was the recreation of a wartime village.  We have attended this '40s event once before a few years ago and this time, it really felt like it was getting into its stride; well organised with many more displays, more food outlets and more entertainment.  The village was a new display for us.  Let's have a wander down memory lane, shall we?

Good humour was in plentiful supply, especially at the butcher's shop!

There were some beautiful clothing items on display and the make do and mend section was of particular interest for me, of course.  I was very taken with the dressing gown made from a candlewick bed cover (I am a massive fan of these anyhow and sleep with one every night!)  The coat was made from an old woollen blanket.  I like the colourful cuffs and collar.

I loved the recreation of a typical kitchen-come-parlour. Oooh, I drooled plenty over the goodies in there.

Somebody was understandably more interested in the toys by the fireside.  (I was more interested in the bread bin!)

Then he spotted the sweet shop, but would there be anything inside given the rationing?

Best find out, just in case there might be the odd jelly baby.

The second hand shop would have been doing a roaring trade, I'm sure.

This display was also rather charming (ok, yes, I was coveting the biscuit tin.)

Moving on, it was time for a spot of vintage shopping.

The shopping is usually quite good as there are some less well known dealers there who we don't see elsewhere.  It's good to see different stock and their prices are usually pleasantly reasonable.

Outside, there were more stalls.  Some traders had made attractive displays with their stock. They were also very knowledgeable, always have a natter with folks at these events as they're really friendly.

What is it about washing lines?  They can look so attractive, don't you think?  (If you ignore the ironing that's coming next!)

Ok, prepare for a cute overload.  Don't say I didn't warn you!

And more.  Meet Queenie.

There was an excellent recreation of a fire station, using many artefacts original to local Crayford Fire Station.  This lady was able to tell us so much about how the station would have worked during the war years.

What I haven't done is show or tell you about all the singers who were keeping everyone entertained or the marvellous dancing (though I do think it is difficult to see the dancing properly within the confines of indoors, it would be better outside in my opinion).  The day ended with the sun coming out and everyone waving flags and singing along to the classics:  We'll Meet Again, There'll Always be an England, Rule Britannia and of course, God Save the Queen.


Tuesday, 18 September 2012

A Thrilling Evening

Puttin' on the Ritz, maybe?  Painting the town red?  A night on the tiles?  Hmm.  Tiles and painting may have been featuring heavily in our evenings but not quite in that glamorous a way!  

I was shocked to see how long it is since I had managed to post something on my little old blog.  The days and weeks are flying by so here I am at 8 o'clock and depressingly, it's already dark outside (though it has been a beautiful day).

You can guess what has been occupying most of our time for the last six weeks.  The longest kitchen makeover in history?  (Do feel free to chip in with your own horror stories, we can make each other feel better.)  We are about 95% there now and tonight, Mr HenHouse is at it with his drill.

Behind him, I am occupied with indeed quite thrilling matters and am sitting at my new island with a spot of quilting in hand.  And so the conversation goes: 

Hen: "I've made these new place mats for us".

Mr HH:  "That sounds lovely.  I'll turn round in a minute and have a look."

Mr HH:  "Blimey, you're not expecting me to eat my dinner off those are you?  I'd have tomato sauce on it in minutes!" (Tonight's dinner is indeed meatballs in the aforesaid sauce.)

Now, I do know what my other half means.  I started these a few days ago and all the centre panel of 82 x 1.5" squares to be exact, was thriftily cut from my scrap box (times two, for two "His 'n' Hers" patchworky place mats).  So far so thrifty.  But once I had sewed the whole thing together, sandwiched the front with two layers of left-over wadding and a piece of vintage candy striped sheet on the back, and started in on the pretty pink perle hand quilting, the thought of oozing gravy and stray peas on my place mat was starting to seem a little too much for comfort.

But they were made from thrifty scraps after all and what else shall I use them for? Would I then have to just make another, maybe simpler, set of mats which I still might be too fearful to use? Are handmade place mats just not a good idea at all?

So the question is, to place mat or not to place mat?

I'm sure your evenings are made of much more exciting matters...

Wednesday, 5 September 2012


Ah, these are busy days, to be true. The Munchkin has returned to the seat of learning yet I seem to have less, not more time on my hands? Anyway, let all us parents give ourselves a huge pat on the back for having survived the Summer holidays!

Did I mention the word "Summer"?  Here in the capital, that is how it is feeling this week; better late than never.  The skies are decidedly blue, the mercury is rising and the sun is smiling down.  What better than to put down my rubber gloves (all I seem to do is clean these days, ah the joys of house renovation), and head out with a few pretty goodies to show you what I've managed to finish.  Oh, I do like a finish.

Do you remember the strip roll of fabrics I bought from the NEC from Worn and Washed?  It took me little time to piece together the top.  I added in quite a lot of fabrics of my own and I enjoyed the piecing so much that once I thought the top was complete, I added another four rows, just to make it the size I wanted, you understand.  It was good to rummage deep in the stash and see what was squirreled away.

Now it is completed, this quilt reminds me of laundry times, with its faded blues and washed out pinks. I bound the quilt with a blue polka dot cotton, I am loving "that blue" at the moment.

I settled on the name "The Washday Quilt", it just seemed right. The quilt is backed with a candy striped flannelette sheet, I fortuitously came by a stack of these recently from one of my mum's neighbours.  It is old, soft and bobbly.  Delicious.

I LOVE this quilt.  To me, it looks divine but it was also a dream to make, it just went together perfectly.  As I hadn't used my beast of a quilting machine for a while, I had a look at the manual and fiddled with the foot pressure setting.  Blow me if it didn't quilt perfectly.  It fed the quilt sandwich just right so all my lines stayed true, quite important on a brick path quilt with lots of stripey fabrics.  It was like a revelation and I was, and indeed remain, thrilled and excited by this find!  Just shows, it's always worth re-reading the manual every now and then.  Duh.

I don't know about you, but now we are in September already (how did that happen?), there is a decidedly Autumnal feel in the air.  The windfalls are dropping, the leaves crispening and the light has a pretty glow.  My dahlias, which I grew from some cheap tubers for the first time this year, are flowering splendidly and in honour of The Washday Quilt's moment of glory before the lens, I picked my first bunch for the vase (or marmalade pot, to be precise).  The low light through the old apple tree cast a pretty light on the quilt as it lay on the old bench under the spreading branches.

In truth, out in the sunshine the colours are a little more vibrant.  Oooh, pretty.

I feel so very very pleased to be back in the quilting groove and cannot wait to hopefully find plenty of Autumnal and Wintery hours to while away in the Den.

It's always nice to finish something, isn't it?  Another important project here, somewhat larger than a patchwork quilt, is thankfully nearing completion, too.  It's looking just how I dreamed it would and I am itching to get out all my pretty goodies and put in place all the finishing touches.  But I must be patient (not my strong point) and wait a while longer until the construction side of things is truly over and done.  For now, there's plenty to make me happy...

Hope you are enjoying happy and productive days, too.