Wednesday, October 26, 2016

London Loop: Hemsey Green to Coulsdon South

With shorter days approaching we've set aside walking the Thames Path and taken our boots onto the London Loop, alternatively known as the London Outer Oribital Path .

Thank goodness that yesterday I was walking from Hemsey Green to Coulsdon South with friends ... getting more than a bit lost was OK in a team! Our 'guide', downloaded from, got their right and left muddled in places and missed out some key landmarks that could have helped us find our way across meadow and through trees. Google Maps came to our rescue as we looked for the pub to stop for lunch, We had circumnavigated Betts Mead Recreation Ground and still not chosen the correct gap between two trees so I reached for the iPhone!!

The first great place was Riddlesdown Quarry see We all found its steel fencing a very useful handrail as we climbed down and down and down its eastern edge, ending up at a Jewson's Building yard and a very busy main road.

The quarry and the road: the quiet and the busy - hallmarks of walking green spaces in suburbia.

Further into Happy Valley, we walked soft earthy paths, the sun shone and the landscape came alive with a autumn rainbow   - a beautiful place to be and an open and free place to be grateful for.

Finally we reached Farthing Down, where on a clear day, and this was a clear day, the City of London is easily seen.

Three trains later we were on our way home - clearly we're going to learn lots about the rail network as we walk around the capital as well as discovering more walks that qualify for the label a wonderful walk.

And I had fun I earlier this week preparing for the next day of the Inspiriation to Stitch course ...  we were asked to look for words and had been working with leaves so
courtesy of  here is a haiku by Basho, translated by Hess.

Finally, the sky and the sea looked very lovely today ...  and I added another possible quilt pattern to the list after seeing the arrangements of these pilings.

#londonloop #walking #autumn 

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

From just one leaf ...

Second day on Inspiration to Stitch course .... we created a nature table, I added Plath's Blackberrying poem to the Autumn pin-board and then it was onto stencils, or in my case one stencil and an all sorts of colouring tools.

So, from just one leaf

and this wonderful bundle of prickles was my model for drawing without looking .....   turned out rather porcupine like!

The exercise of following an object with the eye while making the page felt OK ... perhaps because
I'm someone who doesn't like the D word. It felt like writing morning pages  - not lifting the pen and paying attention to the object rather than thinking 'what next".   

Now I know this is called blind contour drawing   ... more details here and in many other places on the web.  

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Lists and books and a half buried pipe

This time of the year fir cones of all sizes and shapes and all sorts of leaves make their way to the end of my drive, collecting themselves, perhaps resting, certainly making clearings elsewhere.  This 'collection' is every bit as diverse as my week has been.

Reading: here the books I'm dipping in and out of at the moment, find out more about all three at

If you've read about slow stitching please comment ... and mark making (I think we used to call the drawing but am really not sure)

Here's Kim's blog and her page on Amazon

I'm so enjoying the poems in Kim's  latest poetry collection, possibly because I heard her read quite a few of them in Swindon. The ear and the eye and memory working together.

And its time for the third assignment for the online poetry course 'Secrets and Lies ... that sent me searching for an old notebook, oh, the joy of finding it! It has a list of names written when I drove south down the west coast of New Zealand's South Island -it seems these names have waited patiently  since 2010 to be of great value. 

Finally, how wonderful this October weather is ... I walked along the beach at Minster on Sunday and seeing this pipe set me thinking about things half hidden, half shown, halfway between things. 

#poetry #stitching #pipes #lists ... not sure at all I've got the hang of this hashtag business, but hey ho!

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Inspiration to Stitch ... the first day

Lovely start to the textile course I'm on this year with Terri and Hazel of They have a wonderful new light and airy studio full of stuff to work with.

Our first task was to destroy, yes, destroy our pristine new sketchbooks by cutting out the pages and covering up their scary whiteness.

Here's a few I finished off at home now I have a table for my (posh term here)  "wet media work'.

and we have homework so I've been collecting found papers and images around the theme of autumn. 

 I'm trying to get away from too much orange and brown .. not my favourite colours!

So at the moment my autumn is about fruit -figs, grapes, pears and about migration.
That put me in mind of Plath's poem  Blackberrying. You can read it here and that led me to D H  Lawrence's  Figs see

I spotted a few pages of words in one of the sketch books we were shown on Wednesday so really looking forward to the chance to put poetry into work for stitch designs to parallel the way I often use stitching metaphors in poems.

Talking of poetry, the first chat of the online Secrets and Lies course was good with lots of valuable feedback, the usual technical hitch and all in the comfort of my own living room. Its good to be back writing regularly for a workshop  - that and my Swindon Festival days mean I've booked a mentoring day with Jo Bell, she of 52 fame who blogs at

Bye for now. I'm off to see what painting with a tea bag will do for the white page. If the result is more sludgy brown it might just go in the bin!

#sketchbook #poetry #stitching

Monday, October 10, 2016

Post Poetry Festival time

So that means not much time and new poetry books to read, draft poems to work on, ideas to sift, and images to ponder on,


how can I stop that photo moving as I type (it just did),

how wonderful peeling paint can be,

and the question that I asked myself all weekend   ... is there a long lost letter in that box?

As you can see in this second photo I found many examples of twinned materials around and about The Richard Jefferies Museum, the main poetry festival venue this year.
Do go see this wonderful small museum, unsurprisingly its between two roundabouts in Swindon, more details here

and the water, on a sunny Sunday morning, with the birds, dog walkers, babies in prams. A blessing to be so close to fit in a walk before the third poetry workshop and my poetry reading slot.

It was a surprise to be asked to read, a nice surprise, and thanks to mobile IT I found a poem.

It was also a surprise to see the Tent fill and fill with people, well, mainly some very good poets, for the main event - a reading by two very esteemed poets Mona Arshi and Todd Swift

I chose to read a poem called One Afternoon at Teatime  which was recently published online by Pulse. It was great opportunity to publicise Pulse's work. Here's a recent poem they published

 I've copied  One Afternoon at Teatime  below, but do please read it online at and read the comments  ... as C. S Lewis said we read to know we are not alone.

One Afternoon at Teatime

Arthur stops close to where we sit waiting
for the person you call the activities lady
to serve us drinks and biscuits.
He moves his wheelchair with slippered feet,
so we become another group.
You introduce me, This is my sister,
I nod to Arthur and watch his mouth form words
that seem reluctant to reach me, hang
in the air unsteady, diminished.

He continues to speak, I continue to nod,
I think he's asking about my name,
you seem to understand, or do you guess?
I'm trying to work out if there's a knack
I've yet to grasp, a way to hear
the hush and lisp of his voice, because
all the time you've been here, where
you don't want to be, after all these months
Arthur is the first person you've introduced me to.

We choose our biscuits, I drink tea, you have coffee
Arthur has half milk, half coffee and continues to speak.
I think he's talking about his family, two daughters, a son,
I'm unsure so I ask is he watching the rugby?
No, his game is football and there's something
about a golden goal. I say what position did you play
and hear, clearly, outside left.
Something rights itself inside me.

Monday, October 3, 2016

Speedy blogging ...

I was going to write about slow stitching but the blog title probably gives me away ... no time to spend on that today. Instead a glimpse of the garden  ...

the flower and the frog: a little piece of joy in the morning 

the fern and the parsley: green treasures 
And, as I'm already late for Monday morning bridge with the U3A group, here's what I'm reading at the moment although I'm finding it rather heavy going.

Has anyone else read this? Its one of my 'trying to understand the Brexit vote' books, courtesy of a summer Saturday Guardian article (more on that later perhaps).

Now to find out if I can remember one or two of the wonderful things I learnt this weekend at the Improvers course at Andrew Robson's Bridge School It was a wonderful experience, great people, great ambiance and a great teacher.

Friday, September 30, 2016

As Julia Cameron would say "this week's artist's date"

Visited The Craft Study Centre in Farnham on Thursday to see an exhibition of the work of Diana Harrison  see 

As the CSC website says

'Working in cloth is a major exhibition of textile art by one of the finest practitioners in Britain, (Diana Harrison's) recent work is often quiet, introspective and deeply considered ...'

The show is small, very well curated with delicate, repetitive and inspiring textile work in a beautiful setting and really helpful exhibit notes ... do go if you're nearby.

Farnham calls itself a craft town ... there's certainly lots going on there and plenty of traffic. One of those towns that is not very far at all from me and yet I'd forgotten all about it. It seemed a great place to return to now to get to know the polaroid zip printer I bought this week - and to find more images for stitch inspiration.

The printer is very small and so (unsurprisingly) are the prints ... but it was easy to set up. I downloaded the app, connected it via bluetooth to my phone and printed an image just the size for sketchbook work.

More details at  And thank you, Julia Gahagan at Homegrown Textiles  for the info on the printer ... its just what I needed.

Finally, yesterday I somehow found my way to a Youtube video of BKS Iyengar Teaching Yoga asana class in London 1985. its labelled part 2 of 2 (Clip 3 of 3) ... there are lots of great tips about what to move where and the length of the stretch in shoulder stand ... and it's wonderful to watch the Master teaching. See
Have a good weekend all.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

More not very unusual news.

A better than expected Quilters Guild workshop on Saturday to learn about miniature quilting - useful to know how some quilters use glue and net to hold those tiny pieces. I can see from the photo of my 'cottage' how crooked my finished piece is ... accuracy is key for pieces this small; obviously I went astray.

I've played with stitching my pasted and painted muslin ... not happy about the stitch holes. Perhaps there be some help with looking at work by professional textile artists so I'm off to a local Gallery soon to learn more.

So good to have daily autumn sunshine and unusually warm days as it starts to darken later and earlier each day. For me this means difficult to decisions about what clothes to wear. I noticed a whinge in my voice talking about these dilemmas -socks or no socks, how many layers- and then realised my good fortune that such things bother me.

I've been seeing a friend on chemotherapy for myeloma quite a lot these past few days. We spent time yesterday repacking her case for the next hospital visit -pyjamas and comfy clothes to wear waiting for the drugs to drip slowly into her body. We chatted about winter coats even though she's not able to go out and about. Not yet, I said, soon though, we'll go for a walk to the new cafe in the park.

I passed this wall on my way home on Sunday as I have many times before ... and was stopped by the light on the bricks.

On local walks there are quite a few benches, all sorts of hopes and sizes - places to stop, to pay attention, from where I can find something to inspire my daily mark making. I'm taking a leaf out of Helen Terry's blog see to prepare for the Inspiration to Stitch course.

So far there are pencil marks and words and now I need to find other tools. It's not very me, it feels strange but I'm using a very small notebook so filling a page is not hard, or shouldn't be. Watch this space as I venture further with this novel daily practice.


A friend once told me that the way to see a city was to look up. Looking down in a small village is also rewarding! More possibilities for stitch patterns on the pavement under my feet.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

I've been away a while: back again now

Well, the title of this post says it all really so I won't dwell on reasons for my absence - those of you who know me will know why. If I have any readers left out there, hello again, and if you're new to my blog welcome, I look forward to your comments.

Onto reasons for this restart (yes, there have been many others): top of the list is enrolment on one of the Poetry School's wonderful online courses, called enticingly Secrets and Lies. So there's a real need for me to get writing again ... the blog is one way, resuming morning pages as I did today is another.

I'm also trying to collect some ideas for stitching - colour, shape, dimensions etc. I spent this morning in the garden so didn't have to go far for a reminder to look close -these are presently brightening the view from my kitchen window. 

- my garden is full of great memories, the first time I grew 'Chinese Lanterns' was from a cutting from Peggy's Maidstone garden. So good to have a tub of them with me now.

- I love the randomness of these splashes of pale, just like the random shapes when I free motion quilt.

I  may be back later with a catch up on the Splendid Sampler blocks from my summer sewing. And maybe I'll say something about my summer reading. On the other hand if the sun keeps on shining I'll be out walking of a while.

Remember you can comment as well as lurk in the shadows as a reader! Now to see if I can get this posted and shared around social media after all this time.